Back during the Cold War, there were people whose job was to figure out what was happening inside the Soviet government. Many were like F.B.I. profilers, in that they were hyped as experts, but just made up stuff to play the role. Others actually tried to read party media to figure out what was happening. These Kremlinologists were well-versed in the “Aesopian language” popular with both dissidents and party officials, so they could connect external clues to internal clues.
One of the many signs that America is authoritarian is that we have to use the same tactics to figure out what is happening with the ruling elite. The uniparty members are mostly just making noises to impress the faction leaders. They are the dancing boys of the American regime. Still, they give a sense of the mood within the factions. The media gives a sense of what is happening with party leadership, especially the semi-permanent elements within the security branches.
This is where the Afghanistan story is useful. There is no denying that it is an embarrassment to the regime. The Biden people were selling this as a smooth transition out of an untenable situation. Instead, they got images of people fleeing for their lives as the Taliban swoops in to capture the capital. The people who say optics don’t matter were once again reminded that they are missing a chromosome. Even in authoritarian regimes, optics count for a great deal, even if it just inside the party.
There is some speculation that elements within the regime were opposed to pulling out of Afghanistan and may have sabotaged the effort. There is evidence that the Pentagon and State Department were opposed, but there are no signs they plotted the collapse of the Afghan government. If they were that clever, they would have figured out how to avoid this in the first place. Instead, this is probably just more of the 4-D chess nonsense that has become popular on-line.
Instead, the media reports suggest those semi-permanent elements within the regime knew Afghanistan was a house of cards and they were prepared to pin the blame on the elected elements of the regime. CNN, of all places, is unloading on the Biden people for their incompetency. The NY Times and Washington Post are taking the neocon line and attacking Biden for leaving the “Afghan allies” to die. This open letter to the White House is like Pravda condemning Kremlin policy in the old days.
The question is why did the Biden people push forward with a policy they knew the rest of the party opposed? This is where you may have some 4-D chess, in that there may be a third man in the relationship. Clearly, the Biden people did not see this coming, so they must have been getting bogus advice from the Pentagon and State Department or at least elements within those silos. Maybe this a way to discredit the foreign policy establishment to justify sweeping changes.
This is the clue in the Biden speech. He made clear that this move was about closing the door on the past to repositioning for the future. That is coded language to mean the old Bush era foreign policy is dead or that is the plan. Coupled with the quiet abandonment of Ukraine, the old neocon obsession with their old demons will no longer be the priority of the new foreign policy. Given the infestation of neocons in regime media, this would explain the media attacks on Biden over Afghanistan.
The new foreign policy will focus on China. Little reported during all the excitement of removing Trump and installing Biden is that the Biden people have embraced the Trump China policy with few changes. They are enforcing the trade polices imposed by Robert Lighthizer during the Trump years and doing so aggressively. They are following the Trump position on the genocide in Xinjiang, which is a big deal. They have also allowed US representatives to travel to Taiwan without special permission.
The stakes could not be any higher in this intra-party conflict. The crusades against Islam have been very lucrative for the military industrial complex, both in financial opportunities as well as prestige. A trade war with China is not as sexy for them and not as remunerative. The State Department, of course, is geared to fight the old enemies so a sea change in priorities is very bad for business. For example, having old relatives in Ukraine is suddenly less important than Chinese language skills.
It is too soon to tell how this will unfold. Old regimes get loud, preachy and impervious to contrary facts. We see that with the American regime. The factions are led by fossils from a bygone era. We see the elected side on television, but the leadership of the other factions is just as ossified. They may be younger than the elected leaders, but their minds are frozen in time. No one in party leadership seems to be aware of what is happening outside the strongholds of the regime.
One possibility is that Afghanistan is treated like the party treated Khrushchev’s handling of Cuba in the 1960’s. The party was happy to treat the affair as a disaster, so they could remove him from office. We are already hearing whispers that Biden’s fragile state is the cause of the Afghan debacle. The disappearance of Harris the last few months is another clue. Taking her out of the spotlight keeps her clean and allows everyone to forget about her being an obnoxious idiot.
All we can know at this point is that the regime is very fragile right now. On the one side is a faction locked in the past and staffed by incompetents. They were the people who spent 20 years creating the new Afghanistan. On the other side is the gerontocracy desperately trying to cling to life. Then you have the new vibrant young guns who want to show off what their learned in grievance studies. There is deep tension within the American ruling regime that promises to get worse.
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