Shortly after President Trump tweeted that the Russian Bounty story was a “hoax,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the US has long known that Russia AND Iran AND others have been funding counter-US/Taliban operation in Afghanistan.
Then came this story from Business Insider, which basically corroborates both the reporting by the NY Times & Pompeo’s take. Taliban sources (who really don’t want anything to get in the way of a US exit), confirm, but kinda downplay the “bounties” as de rigueur and, at the same time, distance “official” Taliban from the “criminal” elements who supposedly took Russian money.
And all of that points to my relative indifference to the idea that Russia might be cultivating cash-and-carry relationships and punishing US forces at the same time. Why? Because that’s how it’s done. That’s how the US did it in the years immediately after invading Afghanistan. US forces paid bounties for info on “suspected” al Qaeda and ended up torturing innocent men because of it. The US also paid Iraqi Sunni fighters to switch sides during the famous “Surge” and, in essence, paid them bounties to turn on their Sunni brothers. And, tbh, that’s not nearly as understandable as Iran training and arming insurgents to fight an aggressive invader occupying their neighbor and, btw, therefore in possession of an easy staging area for an invasion of their nation.
Same goes for Russia and Afghanistan … IF this story is true … so what? That’s exactly what I’d expect Russia to do when the US has encircled them and then invades their former bailiwick AND builds a giant airbase on its southern border. Arming insurgents is de rigueur in the great game of empire … which the US thinks it can play by its own rules and without anyone giving back what it doles out with brutal regularity.
Hell, just look at Central and South America for evidence of the practice … when the US was “afraid” the Ruskies were establishing a supposed “staging” area in Nicaragua. That was, of course, horseshit … because there was never anything close to Kandahar Airfield in Nicaragua, nor anything like the encirclement through NATO that the US has inflicted on Russia or has established with military deployments around Iran in the Middle East.
So, I cannot get animated by the idea that Russia might be doing what ALL of the world’s major armed powers do and what the US does with regularity.
What I DO find interesting is the incredible incompetence of the Trump Administration… both operationally and in their haphazard construction of a hackneyed, indefensible cover story. Despite my cynicism, the POTUS is supposed to react to stories like this. And he should be reading PDBs. And his NatSec team should NOT be afraid to bring up intel. That’s more telling about Trump’s convoluted mental state than it is about Russia’s malicious behavior.
And, finally, I also find it interesting that this leak has hit now … after Gen. Milley’s humiliation and after a bevy of top former brass condemned him and when the GOP is looking down the barrel of a wipeout election. Trump is a burning tire around their necks and some may have thought this was an opportune time to force some hands … or to simply clap back at wannabe Generalissimo Trump.Tweet