The US Senate has passed its National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) military spending bill for the fiscal year of 2022, setting the budget at an astronomical $778 billion by a vote of 89 to 10. The bill has already been passed by the House, now requiring only the president’s signature. An amendment to cease facilitating Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen was stripped from the bill.
“The most controversial parts of the 2,100-page military spending bill were negotiated behind closed doors and passed the House mere hours after it was made public, meaning members of Congress couldn’t possibly have read the whole thing before casting their votes,” reads a Politico article on the bill’s passage by Lindsay Koshgarian, William Barber II and Liz Theoharis.
The US military had a budget of $14 billion for its scaled-down Afghanistan operations in the fiscal year of 2021, down from $17 billion in 2020. If the US military budget behaved normally, you’d expect it to come down by at least $14 billion in 2022 following the withdrawal of US troops and official end of the war in Afghanistan. Instead, this new $778 billion total budget is a five percent increase from the previous year.
“Months after US President Joe Biden’s administration pulled the last American troops out of Afghanistan as part of his promise to end the country’s ‘forever wars’, the United States Congress approved a $777.7bn defence budget, a five percent increase from last year,” Al Jazeera reports.
“For the last 20 years, we heard that the terrorist threat justified an ever-expanding budget for the Pentagon,” Win Without War executive director Stephen Miles told Al Jazeera. “As the war in Afghanistan has ended and attention has shifted towards China, we’re now hearing that that threat justifies it.”
If you thought for one moment that the embarrassing multi-decade debacle in Afghanistan would lead to some soul-searching from the failed interventionists responsible for America’s 21st-century Vietnam, think again. Instead of taking a step back to understand exactly why and how their grandiose plans to use the mightiest military in history to impose a top-down, secular, Western-style democracy didn’t quite pan out, they’re doubling down on failure.
When you’re a hammer, everything is a nail, and when you’re a global interventionist, wars fix everything. This time, their target is Ukraine. And Taiwan. Because why start a war with Russia when you can start a war with Russia and a war with China?
According to the same foreign policy blob that brought us such hits as “Saddam Hussein is going to nuke us with all his WMDs” and “Donald Trump is totally getting blackmailed by Vladimir Putin over a magical sex tape,” America needs to prepare for war with Russia because Russia is allegedly massing troops on…its own border with Ukraine.
America’s porous border with Mexico, across which hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants have been flooding unimpeded since the day President Joe Biden took office, is apparently no big deal at all and not remotely worthy of an American military presence. But Ukraine’s border with Russia? To the failed foreign policy blob, that is priority numero uno.
The Russia-Ukraine border must be defended, with American blood and treasure, at all costs. And if you suggest that maybe America should fix America’s border first, it’s because you’re racist or something.
State Department officials attempted to censor watchdog reports on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan as Taliban militants swept across the country, according to a top oversight official.
“Some of the requests were bizarre, to say the least,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Ropko said Friday. “State requested we redact Ashraf Ghani’s name from our reports. While I’m sure the former president may wish to be excised from the annals of history, I don’t believe he faces any threats simply from being referenced by SIGAR.”
The requests extended a pattern of information suppression that the auditor described as “outrageous” and “offensive.” The habit of hiding embarrassing information damaged public debates about the conduct of the war and set the stage for the tragic chaos of the final evacuation from Kabul’s international airport.
“In my opinion, the full picture of what happened in August, and all the warning signs that could have predicted the outcome, will only be revealed if the information that the departments of Defense and State have already restricted from public release is made available,” Ropko said in his prepared remarks. “But as SIGAR has experienced all too often in the past, good intentions for transparency by senior leaders are frequently thwarted by bureaucratic inertia or fear of the public knowing the truth.”
The US government is reportedly close to securing a deal with Pakistan that will ensure its ability to continue military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, the nation where the Biden administration proudly “ended” a decades-long war.
“The Biden administration has told lawmakers that the US is nearing a formalized agreement with Pakistan for use of its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, according to three sources familiar with the details of a classified briefing with members of Congress that took place on Friday morning,” reads a new report from CNN.
“The briefing comes as the White House is still trying to ensure that it can carry out counterterrorism operations against ISIS-K and other adversaries in Afghanistan now that there is no longer a US presence on the ground for the first time in two decades after the NATO withdrawal from the country,” the report reads.
The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday.
The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of August.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. on the weekend meeting.
The Taliban said the talks held in Doha, Qatar, “went well,” with Washington freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.
The United States made it clear that the talks were in no way a preamble to recognition of the Taliban, who swept into power Aug. 15 after the U.S.-allied government collapsed.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor is seeking approval to resume an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan but will “deprioritize” investigating suspected crimes by the US and its allies.
Karim Khan, who took over as ICC prosecutor in June, said he would focus on Taliban and ISIS-K, citing recent allegations. ISIS-K took credit for the August 26th suicide attack at the Kabul airport that killed over 100 Afghan civilians and 13 US troops.
Khan’s reasoning is that the ICC has limited resources, and the Taliban and ISIS-K are responsible for more recent alleged crimes. But the last known US airstrike in Afghanistan took place on August 29th, and it killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
According to Al Jazeera:
A lawyer for alleged victims of US torture in Afghanistan was “stunned” after Khan announced he would “deprioritize” the investigation into American forces, a probe that has long enraged Washington.
There were other instances in the final weeks of the US war in Afghanistan of civilians being killed by US airstrikes. In early August, US airstrikes in Lashkar Gah killed destroyed a health clinic and a school, killing at least 20 civilians.
In 2020, the ICC moved forward with an investigation into alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan. The Trump administration reacted by slapping sanctions on ICC officials, which were lifted by the Biden administration in April. The investigation was on hold as the now-defunct US-backed Afghan government was promising to do the investigation on its own.
The Biden administration has just announced they will be cutting a check for $64 million in “humanitarian aid” to Afghanistan through USAID and Samantha Power.
Supposedly, this aid will go through the UN and NGOs, not through the “government”/Taliban or whoever is currently in control. Here’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken talking about it during his hearing on Zoom with Congress today.
Sorry, but I don’t trust the UN, and who knows who is in charge of some of the NGOs, so even if the money went to those folks, that it wouldn’t end up in the pockets of the Taliban, by force or by design.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) questioned Blinken on this earlier today, making the point that they can’t guarantee where that money is going– just like they gave aid to Pakistan while that country was helping the Taliban.