Fallout From Taliban Power Grab

There are countless spokes of the story to follow concerning the fall of the government in Afghanistan. From military planning to intelligence gathering, to the political ramifications on nations surrounding the Taliban’s conquest, to the temper of the times in the United States. There is no way to be bored with the world headlines this week.

I found the resolve of local journalists during a news conference in Afghanistan to be uplifting, and seemingly determined to do the job their profession demands. Which is far more than can be said for the Afghan military.

The news conference was a show pony aimed at convincing world powers and a rightfully fearful Afghan population that the Taliban have changed. Right!! One must assume that the effort was also aimed at the broader international community who know these are the same barbarians that were last in power 20 years ago. The only new thing about the ones now in charge would be the new generations of Taliban body lice.

“Taliban spokesman ZABIHULLAH MUJAHID “promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights, but within the norms of Islamic law, though he gave few details,”……Then there was this…..After Mujahid says Taliban have announced all encompassing amnesty, Afghan reporter asks — do you think the people of Afghanistan will forgive you too for the explosions and suicide bombings? Mujahid’s response: ‘[collateral] damage’ happens.”

Meanwhile back in the world of modernity, the screws are starting to be tightened on the Taliban.

“The Biden administration on Sunday froze Afghan government reserves held in U.S. bank accounts, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. institutions, according to two people familiar with the matter. The decision was made by Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN and officials in Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the people said.

Cutting off access to U.S.-based reserves represents among the first in what are expected to be several crucial decisions facing the Biden administration about the economic fate of that nation following the Taliban takeover. Afghanistan is already one of the poorest countries in the world and is highly dependent on American aid that is now in jeopardy. The Biden administration is also likely to face hard choices over how to manage existing sanctions on the Taliban, which may make it difficult to deliver international humanitarian assistance to a population facing ruin, experts say.

The United States did not need any new authority to freeze the reserves, because the Taliban is already sanctioned under an executive order approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said Adam M. Smith, who served on the National Security Council and as senior adviser to the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control during the Obama administration.”

I did read this morning a most interesting tidbit from a National Public Radio reporter, via a tweet from @DomenicoNPR

“There are a lot of comparisons being made bw the fall of Saigon & chaos in Kabul. I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s a pt to note that we don’t know everything… After Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, Ford’s approval rating went up — from 37% in March to 51% by June.”

Yesterday morning I wrote on that same track.

“There is no way to predict the fallout from this weekend, or the days to come, but the chaos of actual events, along with the heated rhetoric from the usual crowd might not be aligned with the larger mood of the country. I suspect there is a “silent majority’ who endorse our removal from Afghanistan this month.”

I make my way through the newspapers and editorial cartoons each morning. Without doubt, one drawing summed up all that the world is pondering over the past hours.

And so it goes.