News and the Markets. Afghanistan has Fallen. Issue 1

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But what effect will it have on the markets?

I think it will have a positive effect. There might be a downward blip come Monday but then the Dow will rebound.

For too long it’s been clear we had no business staying there. Neighboring Pakistan had persistently undermined our efforts to prop up the anti Taliban regime in Kabul.

Biden’s decision to pull out, which I believe was the right one, accelerated what was long felt to be an inevitable outcome. Afghans who were not on the Taliban’s side did not put enough effort into preparing for the resistance. 

Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, flew out earlier today to Tajikistan, a former Soviet Republic that shares a border.  

Hamid Karzai, a previous president, has stayed behind with his three daughters and has offered to take part in the transition of power, but it’s all up to the Taliban.

Will the new regime be as backwards and repressive as the one that we displaced in 2001?

There is reason to believe they may not. Our twenty year presence has left an imprint and largely positive. We have left evidence of how things can be done differently.

Next door, in Iran, a more modern version of a Muslim government is in place, one which allows women to go to school, work and even hold political office. Maybe that will influence the new rulers.  

We will see. 

Does the fall of Afghanistan represent a political setback for Biden? I don’t think so, though many will try to depict it as such. 

Initial reports from Kabul say that the evacuation of foreign diplomats is proceeding unhindered. President Biden sent additional troops to facilitate the process.

Oscar Valdes.

Afghanistan is Lost

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Recently, in the wake of the surging Taliban offensive which soon will lead to the final assault on Kabul, the capital, an Afghan man was quoted as saying, ‘You didn’t fix the problem.’

He was angry that America was leaving his land. 

America had come and stayed for 20 years but now was leaving and the Taliban would take over again.

Women would once again be forced to marry and wear the all-enveloping burqas, their possibilities for personal development deeply curtailed.

‘You didn’t fix the problem,’ said the man. 

There is passivity in those words. The expectation that others are to fix the problem. The problem, of course, is the Taliban. The brutally rigid group of Afghans who wish to return to rule the country in the name of Islam. 

Did America fail? 

Yes, we did. Failed to fire up in Afghans who are open to change, the will and power needed to fight off the repressive Taliban and rebuild the nation.

But Afghans knew all along that America and their NATO allies would not stay forever. We had gone there to root out the terrorist group Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks and then stayed to boost the country’s modernization.

Afghans had to know that the foreigners would not stay forever – it was not their land – but failed to use that opportunity to summon up their own courage and work steadily to overcome their national differences and be prepared to fight the enemy.

‘You didn’t fix the problem’ is the lament of a frustrated man who, having seen how much different life can be, now will have to abide by whatever the Taliban says.

If he has a daughter over 15, then she is ready for marriage to a Taliban fighter if they so wish. Her choice is irrelevant. And truncated are her possibilities as a full human being.  

‘You didn’t fix the problem,’ is the cry of Afghans who didn’t band together to stop the forces of darkness they knew were just waiting for the foreigners to leave.

But can Afghans still rise in defense of their land? I don’t think so. Of course, miracles can happen. But the likelihood is that the world has to prepare itself to read report after report of people executed because they were enemies of the Taliban. 

And as soon as the dust and smoke settles after fighters on the ground capture Kabul and take over the entire country, the Taliban’s supreme leaders, now in comfortable settings in Qatar and under that government’s protection, will make their triumphant return.

The number of the executed will keep growing and we will be reminded of Myanmar’s tragedy.

Yes, America had to leave. It was time. We had to leave because we have to rebuild our nation. 

Rebuild because we are not united and if we remain so we will lose our land.

But we should ask ourselves, how hard did we try to get Afghans to say, ‘We must fix our problem. It is our problem. Others can help us and we will be most grateful, but it is our problem to fix.’

Oscar Valdes.

What Biden Could be Saying to Americans as Afghanistan Falls

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‘Fellow Americans… it is with a sad heart that we witness the gradual fall of Afghanistan.

We went there 20 years ago to root out Al Qaeda and find Osama Bin Laden. In the process we connected with the Afghan people. Heard their stories, their fears of being ruled by a repressive regime. We opened schools and a university and tried our best to share our values, the right of every human being to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We spent an enormous amount of money building up their armed forces, and our brave soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder with them against the Taliban. 

Nearly 2500 of our soldiers died in the struggle. 

I wish I could now tell you that what we did was enough. I wish I could now tell you that what we did has a chance to grow into something lasting. I wish.

The reality, however, appears to be different… and we have to face it.

The Taliban keeps making steady advances and conquering city after city.

We continue to assist the Afghan Army by providing aerial support from our bases in the region, but it is not enough.

What happened?

We accomplished our goal of tracking down Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack on our nation. We accomplished our goal of putting a check on Al Qaeda. But we were not able to change the core of that country in a way that makes it unlikely Al Qaeda will mount another attack on us. So, as always, we must be on guard.

What I have to say now is not easy for me. In spite of all our efforts, we could not instill in the majority of the Afghan people the will to unite, to overcome their differences and present a solid front to fight and defend themselves against the Taliban. 

Twenty years we spent there and we now are leaving. We have to. It pains us to do so because unless the Afghan army and the people push back and mount a strong defense, Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban and so many Afghans will find their dreams and aspirations ruthlessly trampled upon. 

But why do we have to leave? 

Because we have to rebuild our nation. Yes. Our nation. 

We have to raise the level of productivity in our citizens. The level of education. We have to change the social conditions that foster so much dysfunction and animosity in our land. 

How is it possible that, on January 6th, a group of our fellow citizens felt entitled to plunder our Capitol in violation of our basic rules? What led us there? 

We have to invest in better caring for each other so we stop those senseless acts, and the senseless killings in our cities and towns. 

I know we can, if we put our hearts and minds to it. As we do, we will grow stronger and wiser.

The road ahead is long and arduous but the good news is that we are on our way.

As the world watches, our standing must be a reflection of how free we are to be the best we can be.

My administration is committed to laying down the foundation to achieve that goal. 

And with the help of our fellow Republicans, it is well within our reach if we stay on task.

We can do it, I assure you. It is urgent that we do. United we rise, divided we fall.

The story of Afghanistan teaches us a great deal. 

We have to constantly keep building bridges to each other. We cannot stop.

Build bridges from the urban to the rural. From the wealthy to the poor, from the well educated to the less educated, from people of one color to people of another. Build bridges from the Right to the Center and to the Left, for we are all Americans who need each other and have to trust each other to confront the challenges that life will continually bring us.

There is no time to rest. We must act.

It remains my fervent hope and prayer, that the Afghan people and their Army, will find in themselves the needed strength to resist and overcome the forces of repression and darkness that the Taliban represent. But it is up to them.

Meanwhile, we will continue to provide aerial and tactical support.

My fellow Americans, let us pull together… strive with all our might… and I assure you our nation will lead by the power of our example.

Good night.

Oscar Valdes.

Leaving Afghanistan. Finding New Power

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Mr Biden has committed to the US exiting that nation. It was not an easy decision. But after 20 years of occupation, I think it is the right decision to make.

What has made it so hard?

We went there in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. That has been accomplished.

An enormous commitment in manpower and investment in the Afghan people was made to attempt to rebuild that nation, at least the sectors open to it. But the Taliban has proved eminently resourceful and, with the support of Pakistan, has managed to undermine American and NATO allies’ effort.

We have been grieving for a long time the loss of our effectiveness in Afghanistan, grieving that we could not do more for their people.

But we now have to face up to the failure of our ambitions.

We wanted to persuade the potential Taliban supporter that democracy was a better option. We could not do so. For one reason or another, what the Taliban preached was able to prevail and so convert enough Afghans to their side, and thus continue bombing schools and centers of learning and killing their brothers and sisters. The Taliban were willing to sacrifice their lives in praise of their god while seeing us as the devil.

After all these years, Afghans remain a profoundly divided nation, at war with themselves and immersed in a mortal struggle for their identity and their affirmation as a people.

We cannot fight their fight.

Twenty years we were there and failed to fire up in them the drive to counter teachings that restrict the possibilities of human beings.  

Twenty years we were there and failed to impact their culture in a meaningful way.

It was a very ambitious goal to begin with, and maybe it could have been approached differently, but we did the best we could given our own level of development. 

Now we must retrench. Now we must look at ourselves squarely and examine what has gone unattended within.

Maybe we can continue to offer some measure of support and keep the Taliban from overrunning the government that we and our allies, at great cost in blood and treasure, have helped put in place.

I hope so. 

But as we pull out we grieve the limits of our power. 

And as we grieve we must confront the inequality within that has weakened us and lessened our effectiveness abroad. 

Addressing such inequality will make us more effective when we again attempt to help other nations. 

Had we been a fairer nation, had we been known for treating African Americans with respect, we probably would not have been a target for Osama bin Laden.

The Twin Towers were a symbol of White Power in America. 

Had power not been so concentrated in a group perhaps such attack would have never happened.

The image we project as a nation matters. If we project an image that all ethnic groups in our land have a seat at the table when decisions of consequence are made, then the perceptions the world has of us will be different.

And so it is critical that we integrate all of our minorities. As we do, we will project an image that we are a reflection of the world in its entirety. That because groups from all over the earth have a place in our nation, then we are the world.

If all religions and languages, all colors and types can live and prosper in our land and we can still see ourselves as one nation, does that not tell the world that we are them and they are us?

Yes, it does.

And our effectiveness as mediators and resolvers of conflicts would be multiplied twenty-fold.

And we would be seen as a place where transformative choices occur – a laboratory for human interaction – from which others can learn just as we learn from them. 

Are we up for the challenge?

I say we are.

We are because all it takes is courage, intelligence, civility, humanity and the ambition to power it through.

And we have all of it.

Oscar Valdes.