Monday, 6 September 2021

Taliban Claim Control of News

The word "function" can be understood to mean "purpose" and vice versa. Like, you will read about the "function of democracy" in spite of the fact that those who truly believe in democracy at the bottom of their hearts probably believe it has a purpose, which would be their purpose. Then there's the function of "any good democracy" should we have any doubt about the purposes that might come by way of the results.

But function really does just mean function whereas purpose is when intention is applied to the desired outcome of a function. More simply put, a function is a way to get there. I would think then that function trumps purpose in the cold hierarchy of computation, but is it possible to calculate the relative value of a function versus its purpose? That depends on the value, of course.

Afghanistan is an interesting example of what's been said to be a miscalculation of purpose, conveniently enough here, in going in, in carrying it out, and in withdrawing. The reason words like mistake and miscalculation (and blunder and debacle and failure) get my ire is that they obscure intent by carrying the water for anyone whose intent was anything but the one being implied in the use of the word synonymous with the stated error. It cannot see the function for the purported purpose and therefore cannot see the purpose.

The apparent differentiated view vis a vis the takeover of the Taliban is one that is too reasonable to take on. The reasonable differentiation involves an admission that, yeah, the takeover was part of the calculation, it was the rapidity that was a surprise. We can leave aside for a moment the American president's initial insistence that it wouldn't happen at all. But to take on "miscalculation" here would be to ask the question "Why would anyone withdraw as was done with full knowledge that the airport would be taken over before they got out?"  While not unanswerable, it's limited to the realm of nearly unprovable conspiracy theory (i.e. unprovable in the area of the thing we have come to call consensus reality): stuff like "psy-ops".  So I'll take it on good faith that the coordination of the withdraw involved miscalculation. At least in humoring my lesser good sense.

But let's look at the mission itself, and the calculations that went into it. I believe it is important to consider that when any group of individuals are making decisions, not everyone representing the group is moved by the same set of motivations. There is certainly enough overlap to keep it coherent as presented by public relations personnel, but even their motivation is unique. None of this means that most of the group is completely ignorant of all the calculations, but sometimes the stated desires behind them differ.

When the Carter administration began arming and training the Afghanistan mujahideen, it was according to official doctrine in the hopes of keeping Afghanistan free from Soviet influence. But if we're to believe President Carter's NSA advisor Brzezinski, it was with a mind to draw them into Afghanistan to begin with. He eventually bragged about it. Yet an interesting tidbit you get from former security establishment types and intelligence advisors who go on to favorable publishing deals is that Carter was caught off guard by the invasion. The very best good faith based interpretation of this version of history would be that Brzezinski had gotten a bit full of himself in his latter years. One cannot know for sure, but Brzezinski's revision if it is one sure does follow the "war is a racket" axiom even if that little detail is not required to make it so. 

In other words, the discrepancy in calculations between one guy in the oval office versus anyone else among his set of advisors who help get decisions done does not preclude that American action in Afghanistan followed the simple Cold War model, which was to establish business friendly client states. Note that this says nothing about being people friendly, which also means that business friendly doesn't mean friendly to your particular business or anyone else not included in that particular business plan, and when you factor in recent and not so recent decisions that clear bigger businesses of liability for, say, any harm come to minor mineral miners or human rights abuses delivered by their contracted security detail, or the public-private protection of their client state's client state, then, of course, this is not an employee friendly arrangement by any stretch of the imagination. Not that I think anyone would imagine a business friendly client state would be. Which miscalculation am I missing?

Taken in good faith (and why not Jimmy Carter's "one of the good Christians" after all), it could be that the calculation as to whether or not the Soviet Union would invade Afghanistan was secondary to having Afghanistan prepared for the invasion either way. Nevertheless, if you look to the origins of Bin Laden's crew and the subsequently so-named Al Qaeda, it is worth noting that the American establishment were well aware who they were training and arming in the late 1970s long before the Taliban would, as would eventually be claimed, harbor them. They knew they were extreme in their religious ideology to the point of punitive violence. And a full two decades later  (coincidentally two decades ago) the official calculation was to remove the Taliban from power even though they had been a convenient ally right up to the very day that became the casus bellie for the "global war on terror". Or an inconvenient ally. It depends on who you ask, i.e. who is doing the calculation.

So again, and again, and again (ad nauseum! ad nauseum!) we read about blunders and mistakes and miscalculations that forgo by default a closer examination into those who profited from the accredited cockups, and the influence they maintain over this diverse group decision making process. And it's funny, though right in line with the cognitive dissonance coping mechanism of those who assume they are the ultimate apex predator. As if any one of us might be an exception to the rule of chaos.

In short, the question is whose calculation? If it's to forever be taken on good faith that it's the one debated and promulgated that was the prime factor, whereby the discussion remains firmly about good intentions of questionable competence or short-sightedness, then, yeah, it's more about myopic miscalculators than meddling miscreants. But if we were to apply the same skeptical approach that has led us to the consensus reality that increasingly, still, lobbyists ghostwrite our laws with an entirely different calculation than the one being debated in congresses and parliaments, then we might begin to be able to "smoke out" the purpose that goes into decisions related to "defense policy" — right up to and including when it is appropriate to report that someone is "at war" and whether this would be as a result of someone else's business policy.

In terms of writing the history from which the future is to benefit, I would think that at some point, when various groups of people seem to have failed to learn from their mistakes, that it would be a solid idea to examine the stated intentions of the repeated mistake makers in less good faith. In the matter of war, rather than seeing the profiteer as but an appendage secondary to the primary motive, consider the equation the other way around and then see any remaining miscalculator for what he is: A useful tool for people who just want to make some goddamn money. A client state actor. A representative of a compliant state of consciousness, who given the right set of miscalculations, might also be rewarded handsomely, or at least continue to benefit from not having to suffer the consequences.

For what does it harm a man if he should lose apparent good public standing in the midst of bad press about his class's blunders, yet still snag a lucrative advisory spot on one or more of the boards that helped get him there to begin with?

So what is the purpose of the withdraw from Afghanistan, such as it is? Well, what is its function? The quite public declaration of bankruptcy regarding regime change and democratic nation building is a political calculation that plays well in spite of whatever political cost. More simply, however, it's a corporate restructuring to take full advantage of automated technology, which follows the function of any good modern business.

Buy heroin. No, wait. Sell heroin. Ah, fuck it. Just take heroin.