Just this morning, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechia, UK and New Zealand announced record or near-record numbers of positive Covid numbers and/or deaths. Yes, here we go again. Sadly, all of it is completely preventable, and all of us choose to not prevent it, because most have never been told this. Once again, an overview.
In the UK, a report came out last week about the country’s Covid approach, written by politicians, from the government’s own party nonetheless. It’s titled “Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date”, which is kind of ironic, because the one thing WE learn, at least from the press coverage of it, is that not a single lesson has been learned. BBC:
The 150-page document, “Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date”, is from the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, and MPs from all parties.
[..] Conservative MPs Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who chair the committees, said the nature of the pandemic meant it was “impossible to get everything right”. “The UK has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both,” they said. Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay said scientific advice had been followed and the government had made “difficult judgements” to protect the NHS. He said the government took responsibility for everything that happened – saying the government would not shy away from any lessons to be learned at the full statutory public inquiry, expected next year.
What were those big mistakes, according to those 150 pages? These:
[..] the UK was not as open to different approaches on earlier lockdowns, border controls and test and trace as it should have been.
And the “big achievements”?
But their report highlighted successes too, including the vaccination rollout. It described the approach to vaccination – from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs – as “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”.
I kid you not, the biggest mistakes these politicians could come up with was that the UK should have locked down, shut its borders and start testing and tracing healthy people earlier. That’s it. But none of those come close to being the biggest mistakes. And that after 20 months they all still don’t appear to understand that is a sad, saddening and deadly “mistake” all by itself.
The real biggest mistake is the complete denial, and ignoring, of the crucial role prophylactics and early treatment could and should have played. And since neither plays such a role even today, yes, it will continue to be very deadly. The pharmaceutical industry prevents the use of -most- pharmaceuticals, and allows only the use of some of the newest and -therefore- most profitable ones. The promised “full statutory public inquiry” won’t change that.
But first, let’s look at the “big achievements”. Vaccination, “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”, has resulted in the following picture:
“Cases” are, let’s say, “stubbornly high” again (they average about 45,000 recently, and on Monday reached almost 50,000):
Hospitalizations are high too, compared to other countries. Which is odd, since the vaccines were supposed to stop severe cases in every country, we were told. After the claims that they stop infection and transmission became untenable:
Deaths appear to have normalized a little more in the UK, but what’s worrisome in this graph is the “Other excess deaths”. What are they? Are they vaccine deaths? Hard not to think they may very well be. But also hard to know because information on this is so scarce. In any case, they appear to outnumber Covid deaths. Which is no surprise, but still “good” to see in a graph:
The UK is presently about 65% vaccinated, according to Our World In Data, after “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”. 65%? How effective have other “initiatives” been? On the bright side, the unvaccinated 35% may well turn out to be the lucky ones.
But why were (and are) the “big mistakes” made? A clue is that lockdowns, closed borders, test and trace, and facemasks, are all non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI’s). Any and all things pharmaceutical have been ignored from the get go. And not just ignored: there have even been – and still are- extensive coordinated campaigns against ivermectin (IVM), hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and recently even aspirin.
Never has there been any advice for people to boost their vit. C and D levels, or zinc and quercetin. Aspirin and melatonin are never mentioned. Still, it’s widely known that these substances can provide protection from Covid in their various ways. So how can it be that all those highly paid medical experts and scientists that advise their governments never seem to talk about them?
Perhaps you need to look at how the field is laid out. The pharmaceutical industry has the by far largest lobbying departments in the world (and you thought it was Big Oil). In Washington alone there are hundreds of lobbyists working for Big Pharma. Who not only support the politicians’ election campaigns, they also pay huge amounts to the same medical experts that advise the same politicians. Moreover, lobbyists often even write the laws for the politicians, who are not experts. Sort of a symbiotic relationship, if you will.
The problem that I have with this, and these people apparently don’t, is that this has cost enormous amounts of suffering and deaths. For no apparent reason at all. The UK, and any other -western- country, could have promoted vitamin D -and C-, plus zinc and quercetin, and added on ivermectin and/or HCQ, perhaps doxycycline, and only a fraction of the present victims would have died and/or been incapacitated.
And this is not a story about the past either: it continues to this day. There are no protocols for protecting people, and none for early treatment. It’s still: go home and wait till you get so sick you need a ventilator. What doctor signs up for that? Well, most of them do. Screw Hippocrates. 95% of the deaths and misery could have been prevented with cheap, available, run-of-the-mill pharmaceuticals. And your doctors refused to provide them for you.
We’ve all seen the horse dewormer campaign against ivermectin that especially outlets like CNN, and even Rolling Stone, have put so much energy in recently. But the real story of IVM is completely different. Here are a few countries and states, and their experiences with it.
Indonesia ramped up ivermectin production and the government assured national distribution and fair prices. IVM is considered by the government a COVID medicine.
Good thing we didn’t take that horse dewormer. We were smart, we listened to “The Science”, and spend billions on vaccines. It’s too early to oversee the harm these substances have done and will do, and there’s a lot of pressure not to make it public, but we can get an idea from two countries that were initially spared much of what we experienced. They were genuine Covid success stories, like New Zealand was. Until they started vaccinating. Here’s Taiwan and Singapore.
And here is Singapore, bit of a strange graph because the timeline is split in two, but obvious enough:
And now we’re sitting here without ivermectin, because it’s been banned in many places, but with increasing pressure to get jabbed with substances that look very suspect. And increasingly without the freedom to choose what we think is best for us and our families.
But you can still choose to boost your immune system with vitamin D, without which it can’t properly function, and vitamin C. Be careful with zinc, but do consider it; it keeps the virus out of your cells. And it works better with quercetin. And do tell your doctor that you would like a prescription for ivermectin -if only to see the reaction- or HCQ. Ask about melatonin. Get some low dose aspirin. Inform yourself.
Since I am not a doctor (I just listen to them a lot), let me close with an old favorite I haven’t used in a long time: This information is for entertainment purposes only.
PS: Oh, and no, these things are not mistakes. Mistakes are not deliberate.
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Americans who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses are considered fully vaccinated, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Wednesday. “I think what’s very important for people to know is that if you’ve gotten both shots of your mRNA vaccine, you are fully vaccinated right now; you have full—you have a high degree of protection against the worst outcomes of COVID-19,” Murthy told reporters during a virtual briefing. The definition of fully vaccinated could prove key in the coming months. More and more jurisdictions are requiring proof of vaccination to enter businesses. At some point, people could be required to show proof of having received three doses, especially if health officials signaled their support.
Murthy suggested that could come later, pending authorization from the FDAvand a recommendation from the CDC’s vaccine advisory panel, known as ACIP. “Our recommendation down the line, pending the advice and the review of the FDA and ACIP … is that we believe that that third dose will ultimately be needed to provide the fullest and continual extent of protection that we think people need from the virus,” Murthy said. Experts are keeping a close watch on whether vaccine mandates will transition into requiring booster.
“Haven’t heard this debated yet… but in case the Covid events of the past month aren’t messy enough, wait for this one: When—and how—do vaccine mandates transition into booster mandates?” Bob Wachter, chair of the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Medicine, wrote on social media this week. Asked later on CNBC if CEOs should consider mandating boosters, Murthy said, “In my mind this doesn’t change what workplaces are doing.” “Right now, if you’re a business that’s thinking about putting in requirements for vaccines, if you’re a university that’s considering that, nothing in today’s announcement should change what you’re doing,” he added.
The forced mass vaccination of Americans will be regarded as one of the most deadly and costly medical mistakes in history, renowned pioneer in the early treatment of COVID-19, Texas cardiologist and internist Dr. Peter McCullough, has said. Citing recent data from U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and from Israel and Britain, where COVID cases are multiplying among the vaccinated, McCullough, who is editor-in-chief of two medical journals and author of over 600 peer-reviewed studies, including 46 dedicated to COVID-19, said he is “deeply worried” about the future of America. “Americans are going to bear the brunt of what invariably is going to be a failed mass vaccination program that will go down as one of the most deadly, one of the most injurious and costly in human history,” McCullough said in a recent podcast.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in April that it has stopped tracking COVID cases among the vaccinated that do not result in hospitalizations or deaths. The agency is now assuming that new cases are among the unvaccinated unless otherwise advised, which skews numbers to paint the unvaccinated as spreaders of disease. “This intentional misinformation and propaganda scheme has been used to drive an incredible fury of vaccine mandates” for government agencies, veterans administrations, and hundreds of schools and colleges, even though here have been no outbreaks in these places, McCullough said. Israel was the first country to mass vaccinate its population under an agreement with Pfizer to exchange vaccine supply for public health data in an experiment on the people “to evaluate whether herd immunity protection is observed during the Product vaccination program rollout.”
Eighty percent of adults are fully vaccinated there, yet COVID cases and serious hospitalizations have risen 20-fold since early July. The media has highlighted that most serious new cases have been among the unvaccinated, while neglecting to report that the majority (more than 80 percent) of new cases reported by the Israeli Health Ministry are among vaccinated individuals. In response, Israel introduced a third “booster shot” of Pfizer’s vaccine which has been administered to more than one million people as of August 16. In the United Kingdom, more than three-quarters of the adult population (76 percent) have received two doses of vaccine and almost 90 percent of adults have received at least one dose. Yet, the number of COVID patients hospitalized has soared sevenfold since early June this year.
The most recent U.K. report on “variants of concern” revealed that 54 percent of COVID deaths are among the fully vaccinated. A further 12 percent of deaths are among the partially vaccinated who have received one dose. That data, McCullough said, “is basically showing that the vaccines are failing.” Vaccinated individuals can acquire and transmit the pandemic coronavirus and become and die of COVID-19. “Completely vaccinated individuals are passing it to one another,” McCullough said. Nonetheless, citing the new, circulating Delta variant, the Biden administration is expected to follow Israel’s example and introduce a third booster shot for all nursing home residents and healthcare workers for September.
The vaccines were never tested for the Delta variant, and their protection has lasted only months. “It’s clear we can’t vaccinate our way out of this,” McCullough said. COVID-19, no matter what the variant, is easily treatable at home with simple, available drugs, according to McCullough, who has stated that “about 88 percent of hospitalizations and deaths can be avoided” with early treatment.
Why is Japan not trying to use ivermectin, which has few reports of side effects and has been reported to be effective in clinical trials in other countries? On August 5, we had an urgent interview with Mr. Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Association, who had been proposing effective uses of ivermectin from early on.
[..] Ivermectin generic drugs are also manufactured in large quantities in China and India. If Merck doesn’t come out, there should be a way to import and supply it.
“That’s right. If the” Special Measures Bill for Designation and Use of Specified Drugs for the Treatment of New Influenza, etc. “(Japanese EUA * Maintenance Bill), which was submitted to the House of Representatives by Representative Nakajima, who is also a doctor, is passed, generic products But I think the government isn’t working at all at this point. ”
“The other problem is that ivermectin has already been used in many countries around the world, and its dosage, dosage, safety and efficacy have been confirmed, but it has not yet been done in clinical trials in Japan. For this reason, ivermectin is not covered by the drug side effect relief system. This makes it difficult for doctors to use. However, even in such anxiety and disadvantageous situations, doctors who are convinced of the effects of ivermectin. Some of us are prescribing ivermectin at our own risk. I hope that the Japanese version of the EUA maintenance law will be enacted as soon as possible. ”
EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) A system of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that permits the use of unapproved drugs in an emergency and expands the indications for approved drugs. The FDA is <1> a life-threatening disease <2> a certain degree of effectiveness is recognized in the treatment of diseases, etc. <3> The benefits of using it outweigh the potential risks of the product <4> Other diseases It is approved for use if it is determined that there is no suitable alternative to diagnose, prevent, or treat.
Since you admitted that it is not applicable, Japan is classified as an “Ivermectin user country” in the world, but it is a system that can not be used in reality.
“That’s right. In short, the government has not built a system that can supply ivermectin, so it is not a promotion system. If the Japanese version of EUA is prepared quickly and it becomes a system that can be used by doctors in the field, As Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Tamura replied in the Diet, it can actually be administered to patients who are waiting at home or undergoing medical treatment, but with the current system, virtually nothing can be done. However, if we remain cautious in the event of such an emergency, we can only understand that we are sacrificing the safety of the people. “
Supreme Court knocks down ‘covid passport’ to enter bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Andalucia The Supreme Court knocks down ‘covid passport’ to enter bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Andalucia. The Andalucian Government had hoped to use a COVID passport, but the Supreme Court has prevented this. The Andalucian Government had hoped to use a COVID passport control entry to hotels, nightlife venues and nightclubs across Andalucia. The Supreme Court has now rejected this request. The court believes that the proposed measure “does not pass the proportionality test” and that it shows a “justification deficit”. Therefore, it has decided to stand by the decision previously taken by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalucia.
This basically means that anyone in Andalucia will not have to show a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test which was taken in the last 72 hours in order to enter nightclubs, restaurants and bars. The government of Moreno Bonilla had requested these measures, but Supreme Court have decided to overturn the request. The decision was made on two main arguments. The first is that the measure is not sufficiently justified. For the measure to be justified the government in Andalucia would need to prove “that the so-called fifth wave originates precisely in nightlife venues.” The second argument is one of being proportionate. The measure was intended to apply “over a large territory and in very different situations”.
This meant that the measure would be used across the whole of Andalucia, and the local coronavirus situation within each territory would not be considered. The measure failed the proportionality test. If applied the measure would have hit the hospitality sector without it ever having been proven that the main source of coronavirus infections came from this sector. As reported 20 minutes, “Finally, the court argues that it is not possible to restrict the fundamental rights of citizens with a preventive measure such as the ‘covid passport’: ‘It is not a measure that is punctually indispensable to safeguard public health (…), but rather a preventive measure when it happens that, for the restriction of fundamental rights, mere considerations of prudence or precaution are not sufficient’, the Supreme Court argues.”
A Spanish court on Thursday lifted a coronavirus curfew imposed on most of Catalonia, including the capital Barcelona, leaving it in place in just a fraction of the northeastern region. Catalonia’s government in mid-July imposed a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am in most municipalities to fight a surge in virus cases, and the region’s top court then gave the green light to extend it three times. But on Friday, faced with a request by the regional government to keep the curfew in place in 148 municipalities, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia said the measure was “not justified” in 129 of them, because infection rates there had improved. “In these circumstances, the measures are not so much justified on health grounds, but for reasons of security or public order,” the court said in its ruling.
The Catalan government said in a statement it was “analysing” the court’s ruling, but added it “regrets that once again judges are acting as epidemiologists”. The curfew is intended to discourage social gatherings on beaches and in parks after nightclubs close at 12.30 am, which was suspected of fuelling a spike in cases of the highly-contagious Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated young people. Images of large groups of youths gathering on Barcelona’s beaches or in popular nightlife districts have become common since Spain lifted a nationwide night-time curfew in early May. The court did however keep in place for one more week a ban on public or private gatherings of more than 10 people throughout Catalonia.
Like the rest of Spain, the region which is popular with tourists has seen its number of infections drop in recent weeks. When Catalonia imposed the curfew in mid-July it had an infection rate double Spain’s national average, with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over 14 days. But on Wednesday that figure had fallen to 328, lower than the national average of 378, according to the health ministry’s latest figures.
Deputy Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis insisted on Thursday there is no room for postponements, either official or informal, of the suspension of health workers who refuse to get vaccinated. “All of society is grateful and we appreciate the work of our health workers and the results so far in managing the pandemic. And we are optimistic that the small percentage of unvaccinated health workers will get their shots by the deadline,” said Kontazamanis. His announcement came 12 days before the expiration of the deadline given to hospital staff and workers at health facilities around the country to get inoculated with at least one dose of the vaccine. “For those who are not vaccinated, I want to be clear and unequivocal that the law will be implemented. The Greek Parliament has legislated… and the obligation of the state to implement the law is self-evident,” he said.
Americans looking to leave Afghanistan first have to promise to repay the government for the cost of their evacuations to the tune of “$2,000 or more per person,” but the State Department says it will waive the fee. It is estimated anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 American citizens, permanent residents and their family members may still be in Afghanistan, and presumably hoping to leave the country – under Taliban control since Sunday – via Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul before the end of August. Before they brave Taliban checkpoints and hope to get a seat on a US troop transport or chartered civilian jet, however, they must promise to repay the US government for the privilege of their rescue.
One journalist did some digging and found the website of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a State Department partnership with the “corporate, non-profit, academic, and faith-based groups.” OSAC’s security alert for Afghanistan, posted on August 14 – the very day the Taliban took over Kabul from the disintegrating US-backed government – clearly states that “repatriation flights are not free.” Passengers “will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement & may not be eligible to renew their US passports til the loan is repaid,” the advisory says, adding that the cost “may be $2,000 or more per person.”
The promissory note is apparently demanded in the Repatriation Assistance Request form, which is required for every single person hoping to get onto an evacuation flight, according to instructions sent out by the US embassy in Kabul – now operating out of HKIA. Anyone hoping to leave will need to fill out the form and wait for the embassy email, before braving Taliban checkpoints to reach the airport, at which point they will have to hope a seat will be found for them on a departing plane on a first-come, first-served basis. Hand luggage only, no pets allowed.
Joe Biden’s State Department moved to cancel a critical State Department program aimed at providing swift and safe evacuations of Americans out of crisis zones just months prior to the fall of Kabul, The National Pulse can exclusively reveal. The “Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau” – which was designed to handle medical, diplomatic, and logistical support concerning Americans overseas was paused by Antony Blinken’s State Department earlier this year. Notification was officially signed just months before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” an official State Department document from the Biden State Department begins, before outlining the following move the quash the Trump-era funding for the new bureau.
The document is from the desk of Deputy Secretary of State Brian P. McKeon, confirmed in March by the United States Senate. The document is dated June 11, 2021, though The National Pulse understands the decision to pause the program may have come as early as February, both undermining the original Trump-era date for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and certainly giving the Taliban time to threaten American assets and lives on the run up to Joe Biden’s September 11th date of withdrawal. The subject line reads: “(SBU) Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau,” and the body of the document recommends: “That you direct the discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR), and direct a further review of certain associated Department requirements and capabilities.”
It goes on: “That you direct the discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, CCR, consistent with the applicable legal requirements, necessary stakeholder engagement, and any applicable changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual and other requirements.” The document reveals the recommendations were approved on June 11th 2021. Speaking exclusively to The National Pulse, former President Donald J. Trump blasted Biden’s irresponsible move: “My Administration prioritized keeping Americans safe, Biden leaves them behind. Canceling this successful Trump Administration program before the withdrawal that would have helped tens of thousands Americans reach home is beyond disgraceful. Our withdrawal was conditions-based and perfect, it would have been flawlessly executed and nobody would have even known we left. The Biden execution and withdrawal is perhaps the greatest embarrassment to our Country in History, both as a military and humanitarian operation.”
Around two dozen State Department officials at the US embassy in Kabul warned of a potential collapse following the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing a ‘person familiar with the cable.’ Using a special ‘dissent channel’ within the State Department, the cable – sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and another top State Department official – warned of ‘rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces,’ and offered suggestions on how to speed up evacuation and mitigate the obvious crisis slated to ensue, two people told the WSJ. In total, 23 US Embassy staffers – all Americans, signed the July 13 cable, which was given a rush status ‘given the circumstances on the ground in Kabul.’ In addition to Blinken, it was sent to the Director of Policy Planning, Salman Ahmad.
Blinken received the cable and reviewed it shortly afterwards according to the report. The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, one of the people said. The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it. -WSJ According to the report, some 18,000 Afghans and their families who had applied for special US Immigrant Visas remained in Kabul in areas under Taliban control, while efforts to reach the airport have become increasingly difficult.
US intelligence officials have sparred with the White House over who was warning of what, and when. And as the Journal notes, the existence of this confidential State Department memo warning of impending doom adds a crucial piece to our knowledge of how this all went down. Why Blinken and Biden didn’t take immediate action despite receiving a ‘dissent channel’ emergency communication from their staff on the ground in Kabul is unknown, however Blinken is apparently so bad that John McCain called him “dangerous to America” in a 2014 Senate speech, adding that he was “one of the worst selections of a very bad lot” as Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State.
Gen. Mark Milley is right. “There’ll be plenty of time to do AARs,” or after-action reports, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Wednesday press conference alongside Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin. There will be time to learn why neither he nor “anyone else” anticipated the collapse of the Afghan “army and this government in 11 days.” We will one day have the luxury of looking back on this crisis to determine what led to the evacuation of the military before civilians and the surrender of versatile Afghan-based control points. Right now, a crisis of almost unprecedented proportions is upon us. And to judge from what Austin and Milley are telling us, they have neither the means nor the will to resolve it.
As the Washington Post reported on Tuesday night, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. citizens are still in Afghanistan, and there was “no plan to evacuate the Americans who are outside Kabul.” And there still isn’t. In a most dispiriting display of resignation, Austin and Milley explained that the hellish circumstances to which they’d consigned American citizens and their allies in Afghanistan were all but irresolvable. While thousands of Americans and allied Afghans have been evacuated since Tuesday, we are at the mercy of the Taliban who have surrounded Kabul’s single-runway airport—the only means by which allied nations can evacuate their people. But you have to make it to the airport on your own and by whatever means possible. If you are not presently in U.S. custody in the airport—even inside Kabul—there is little the American military can do for you.
“We don’t have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people,” Sec. Austin confessed. Indeed, the U.S. military cannot even mount the kind of rescue operations in which British and French special forces are already engaged. “I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin added. What’s more, there are no plans to address that deficiency. “We know that we got to have the right mix of capabilities on the ground,” Austin insisted. “We don’t want to put excessive materials on the ground that are not relevant to what we’re doing.” According to the Pentagon chief, our powerlessness in the face of a disorganized militia is by design.
We have placed the fate of untold thousands of Americans and our Afghan allies in the hands of the Taliban. They dictate the terms and tempo of our operations. We depend on the Taliban to allow foreign nationals and credentialed Afghans into Hamid Karzai International Airport. According to what remains of the American diplomatic presence in Kabul, “the United States government cannot ensure safe passage” into the airport. We are dependent on the beneficence of a theocratic militia that has demonstrated no capacity for mercy. And the U.S. government has no intention of remedying this condition.
I covered the fall of the Taliban for NPR, making my way into their former capital, Kandahar, in December 2001, a few days after the collapse of their regime. Descending the last great hill into the desert city, I saw a dusty ghost town. Pickup trucks with rocket-launchers strapped to the struts patrolled the streets. People pulled on my militia friends’ sleeves, telling them where to find a Taliban weapons cache, or a last hold-out. But most remained indoors. It was Ramadan. A few days later, at the holiday ending the month-long fast, the pent-up joy erupted. Kites took to the air. Horsemen on gorgeous, caparisoned chargers tore across a dusty common in sprint after sprint, with a festive audience cheering them on. This was Kandahar, the Taliban heartland. There was no panicked rush for the airport.
I reported for a month or so, then passed off to Steve Inskeep, now Morning Edition host. Within another couple of months, I was back, not as a reporter this time, but to try actually to do something. I stayed for a decade. I ran two non-profits in Kandahar, living in an ordinary house and speaking Pashtu, and eventually went to work for two commanders of the international troops, and then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (You can read about that time, and its lessons, in my first two books, The Punishment of Virtue and Thieves of State.) From that standpoint — speaking as an American, as an adoptive Kandahari, and as a former senior U.S. government official — here are the key factors I see in today’s climax of a two-decade long fiasco:
Afghan government corruption, and the U.S. role enabling and reinforcing it. The last speaker of the Afghan parliament, Rahman Rahmani, I recently learned, is a multimillionaire, thanks to monopoly contracts to provide fuel and security to U.S. forces at their main base, Bagram. Is this the type of government people are likely to risk their lives to defend? Two decades ago, young people in Kandahar were telling me how the proxy militias American forces had armed and provided with U.S. fatigues were shaking them down at checkpoints. By 2007, delegations of elders would visit me — the only American whose door was open and who spoke Pashtu so there would be no intermediaries to distort or report their words.
Over candied almonds and glasses of green tea, they would get to some version of this: “The Taliban hit us on this cheek, and the government hits us on that cheek.” The old man serving as the group’s spokesman would physically smack himself in the face. I and too many other people to count spent years of our lives trying to convince U.S. decision-makers that Afghans could not be expected to take risks on behalf of a government that was as hostile to their interests as the Taliban were. Note: it took me a while, and plenty of my own mistakes, to come to that realization. But I did.
For two decades, American leadership on the ground and in Washington proved unable to take in this simple message. I finally stopped trying to get it across when, in 2011, an interagency process reached the decision that the U.S. would not address corruption in Afghanistan. It was now explicit policy to ignore one of the two factors that would determine the fate of all our efforts. That’s when I knew today was inevitable. Americans like to think of ourselves as having valiantly tried to bring democracy to Afghanistan. Afghans, so the narrative goes, just weren’t ready for it, or didn’t care enough about democracy to bother defending it. Or we’ll repeat the cliche that Afghans have always rejected foreign intervention; we’re just the latest in a long line. I was there. Afghans did not reject us. They looked to us as exemplars of democracy and the rule of law. They thought that’s what we stood for.
[..] military strategists, political pundits, foreign correspondents, and even historians will spend the next several decades wondering how a gang of rough Pashtun tribesmen galvanized by a fundamentalist version of Islam managed to defeat the most advanced military in the world. And that’s precisely the point: The problem with the American establishment is not simply that after 20 years in Afghanistan it did not understand the country or foresee what its opponents were likely to do after withdrawing forces. More importantly, our ruling class is so alienated from its own roots that it no longer understands the character of the country it purports to lead, and what makes it different, even exceptional.
The evidence is that our elites sought to graft the effects of a civilization built by and for its own people—democracy, a military and police force, girls’ schools, etc.—onto a primitive society that had to be bribed to accept what we were offering. There is no mystery about why the U.S. experience in Afghanistan ended in failure, embarrassment, and scandal. Nor is it a mystery why the Taliban took over Kabul so quickly. They were fighting for primacy. Their victory was foreordained. The medieval Arab historian Ibn Khaldun explains the dynamic in his 14th-century masterwork, Al Muqaddima. History, he shows, is a repetition of the same pattern seen throughout the ages—a group of nomadic tribesmen overturn an existing sedentary culture, a civilization that has become weak and luxurious.
What drives the success of the rising tribe is its group solidarity, or assabiya. Its awareness of itself as a coherent people with a drive for primacy is frequently augmented by religious ideology. The stronger the tribe’s assabiya, the stronger the group. Assimilating the conquered by imposing its will and worldview on them, the victor lays the foundations of a new civilization. But since, as Ibn Khaldun writes, “the goal of civilization is sedentary culture and luxury,” all groups carry the seeds of their own demise. And so the struggle begins anew.
Ibn Khaldun’s most important contribution to political theory was to show that assabiya is the engine of history. With it, the most primitive tribe can overturn the mightiest of civilizations; without it, a people will wither in the desert. As an Arab, and one who claimed as an ancestor a companion of the prophet of Islam, it was natural that his main focus was the physical and spiritual environment of the Bedouin. It was the harsh desert conditions that bred the Bedouin tribes and the ideological conviction, Islam, that bound them together, and which gave rise to the Arab empire, at its height one of the largest in world history. “Since desert life no doubt is the source of bravery, savage groups are braver than others,” he wrote. “They are, therefore, better able to achieve superiority and to take away the things that are in the hands of other nations.”
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THE NARRATIVE IS CRUMBLING. SOMETHING BAD AND BIG IS GOING ON.
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