The upbeat message by US commander General John Campbell that Nato is leaving Afghanistan in better shape and has given the Afghans hope was belied by the secret flag lowering ceremony in Kabul. It was not even broadcast live. Do victorious armies hold ceremonies in secret?
2014-12-28, 10:49 EST
Like the US, Nato also never loses a war. It simply declares victory and gets the hell out.
This is what happened in Kabul today. Nato held its flag lowering ceremony signaling the end of its 13-year mission in Afghanistan.
“The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years,” according the French news agency, AFP today.
While the dirt-poor country has been left even more devastated than before and Taliban attacks have increased, Nato commander, General John Campbell did what Americans are good at doing: he told a blatant lie.
"Together... we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future,” Campbell told assembled soldiers.
"You've made Afghanistan stronger and our countries safer."
If the Afghan people have been given hope and have been taken out of the darkness of despair, why was the flag lowering ceremony held in secret?
Surely victorious armies do not celebrate in secret!
True, the soldiers and generals gathered albeit in small numbers, but there was no victory, only the look for defeat and despair on their faces.
The soldiers were visibly glum and appeared anxious to get the hell out of a country that has been an unmitigated disaster for them.
The US and its Nato allies relived their Saigon moment even if there were no helicopters dumped in the sea only because Afghanistan is landlocked.
"I hope you take great pride in the positive impact you've made and will continue to make upon the Afghan people," Campbell said in a speech released by ISAF on Twitter. It was not broadcast live because of security reasons!
Despite Campbell’s upbeat speech, the soldiers knew the grim reality of Afghanistan only too well.
Operating under the label International Security Assistant Force (ISAF), they have suffered 3,485 military deaths since 2001. Many soldiers are leaving with grim memories of their dead comrades who returned in coffins.
But Nato casualties pale in comparison with death and destruction inflicted upon the Afghan population. These are statistics the Americans and their allies are not interested in.
No tally of Afghan casualties was kept initially although in recent years, the UN started keeping track.
This past year has been particularly grim. Civilian casualties hit a record high, jumping by 19 percent with 3,188 civilians killed by the end of November.
The much-touted Afghan police and army have also suffered a grim death toll. In the first 10 months of 2014, more than 4,600 were killed.
Foreign troop presence will be reduced to 12,500 and will allegedly be involved in assisting the Afghan army and police but if they could not subdue the Taliban with even 130,000 troops, what would a tenth of such force do now?
Campbell admitted "The road before us remains challenging,” but in typical gusto of bravado, claimed, “but we will triumph." How this would come about, he did not elaborate.
The Taliban were dismissive of American claims. "The US and NATO mission was an absolute failure as today's ceremony shows," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AFP.
"They are fleeing from Afghanistan. They have not reached their goals in defeating the Afghan mujahideen, but they are keeping some forces here to reach their vicious aims."