US General Thinks Russia Must Be Arming the Taliban

Provides No Evidence for Allegations of 'Malign Influence'

The Afghan War is going extremely poorly, 16 years in, and the US military needs someone to blame for its failures. The first choice among a lot of top military figures seems to be Russia, and while they offer no evidence to back up their claims, several have alleged that Russia might conceivably be arming the Taliban.

US commandeer Gen. John Nicholson appeared to be joining that camp today during comments in Kabul, complaining about the “malign influence” of Russia in the country, and insisting that he was “not refuting” allegations of Russia shipping weapons to the Taliban.

“Not refuting” is a very weak version of alleging, in this case, as US officials have offered no evidence that this is the case, nor any plausible reason why Russia would conceivably do this, as Russia fought materially the same insurgency during the 1970s and 1980s.

The only rationale for Russia backing the Taliban against the US seems to be that the US cheerfully backed the insurgency during the Russian occupation. Russia, however,, has long supported the US-led war in Afghanistan, hoping it would prevent the spread of Islamist forces into former Soviet republics in Central Asia, nations which Russia has defensive treaties with, and which could quickly suck Russia into a very unpopular regional war.

Given this, and the absolute lack of evidence, the allegations that Russia might be arming the Taliban, or at least that it can’t be ruled out, appears to be a very desperate attempt by the military brass to shift the blame for a failing war to an external party.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • RickR35

    So they found a Taliban with a 40 year old AK47, hence Russia is arming the Taliban… is that the kindergarten logic our brilliant military brass is coming up with these days?

    Is there any military official who hasn’t been compromised by the corrupt neocon establishment?

    • Bill Rood

      Winning wars is not one of the institutional imperatives of the military industrial complex. As a result, top commanders are incompetent and learn nothing from repeated defeats. Here are those imperatives:

      1) profits for arms manufacturers and other military contractors, 2) career enhancement for military brass, civilian employees of the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, and militarist think tanks, 3) high paying jobs guaranteed by ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) for “US persons” that keep those employees loyal to the system, 4) pork for politicians and 5) blockbuster movies and sensational headlines to sell media (and also to contribute to the necessary fear and jingoism).

      In fact, winning wars is an impediment to an ever increasing defense budget. As long as you’re losing, it’s easy to justify a need for more men and materials.

  • fas

    They can blame Russia for anything these day’s even US occupations and other colonial projects going wrong but i’m tempted to say “payback is a b*tch”,

    US agents, terrorist proxies and Stingers killed a lot of Russians in the 80*s and now Us tries to Russians (and the Chinese) by Afghan opium since that market flourished under CIA supervision. CSTO don’t want the US in Afghanistan because they are only in it to get a hold on the Silk way project and to control oil pipes.

  • GeorgyOrwell

    What a joke! The US cannot even defeat The Taliban in sixteen fu%#in years?! Tell me again how we are going to fair against NKorea or Iran or Syria?

    They’re either incompetent or they are lying, and are really not trying to win, but rather trying not to leave Afghanistan.

    • You keep asking that, and I keep answering it. But, once again:

      There is a difference between conventional warfare and occupation/counter-insurgency.

      Conventional war: The US defeated the Taliban in six weeks.

      Occupation/counter-insurgency: Instead of taking “victory” for an answer and going home, the US decided to occupy Afghanistan and try to run it, and has been losing ever since.

      The US could destroy the ability of the conventional armed forces of North Korea, Iran or Syria to operate on the battlefield in short order. What it could not do is occupy their territory and run it to its own satisfaction without facing continuous armed resistance.

      • curmudgeonvt

        In the case of NK though, the US doesn’t have to be responsible for “occupy/counter-insurgency” because they have a ready – and I’m assuming willing – landlord in SK. And in such close proximity of the Chinese border, I imagine the US military will be given permission to build and staff military bases – for the protection of the Korean peninsula from those pesky Chinese.

        But, as has been the case for many, many years of trying to manage the affairs of the entire world, the US will screw it up and there will be hell to pay…but not before the US citizens pay for the hubris of those we’ve elected to serve us. Ha.

        • Unwelcome Guest

          The US dealt with the counter-insurgency problem after the Korean armistice by isolating the battlefield with a fortified line along the peninsula, and control of the surrounding seas. No doubt a similar line would be built on the Korean-Chinese border. Perhaps the Moroccan berm system would be tried. I’ve always found that one charming.
          The obvious question, of course, is would the Chinese put up with this. They wouldn’t the first time. It’d be interesting to see what’d happen the second time around.
          Needless to say, I’m far too conservative to have tried anything like this. That’s why I liked Obama’s missile defence approach. It always seemed to me to be the best of all the bad options.

      • DoomGuy

        I wouldn’t be so sure that Uncle Sam can take out the Korean military or even incapacitate it “in short order.” North Korea has a million-man army. Of course, South Korea has almost 500,000, with better equipment, plus a strong navy and a very good air force. Even so, it wouldn’t be easy to get enough troops and aircraft on Korean soil in time to wage a huge ground war, especially if NK decided to learn from Iraq’s poor example and strike before the American build-up became too strong. Meanwhile, aircraft carriers and destroyers offshore would cause huge problems for the Koreans, and once the Navy starts bringing in the big LHDs, that will help too, if the goal is a seaborne invasion. But Korea is a mountainous country which doesn’t play to the strengths of the US Army’s overwhelming superiority in tank warfare. Further, the Empire has forces scattered everywhere, plus a lot of worn-out equipment from perpetual war. Taking on an army twice the size of ours in rotten terrain is a very risky business.

        • No ground war, other than defensive operations by the existing garrison along the DMZ, would be necessary to incapacitate the North Korean military.

          That would be done by targeting their command, control, communications and intelligence abilities from the air (while establishing air supremacy and destroying their missile launch capabilities) so that coordinated large-scale action becomes impossible.

          The big mistake would be going into that rotten terrain with infantry (again), where individual units acting independently would enjoy an advantage. That’s why I think the follow-up to a US air war won’t be a US ground war, but rather “acceptance” of Chinese troops entering on the ground as “peacekeepers,” thus saving both North Korean and Chinese face without substantial US casualties outside the DMZ.

          Not that I want the US to go to war on the Korean peninsula, mind you. But if it does, I don’t see any plausible scenario in which the Korean People’s Army remains a coherent fighting force at theater level for more than 24-48 hours.

  • eric

    When the Soviet Union was trying to control Afghanistan the United States armed the Taliban . So I suppose it would be payback time for Russia to Arm the Taliban .now that United States is trying to control Afghanistan . But Russia has allowed the United States to use Russian air space and there is no evidence of Russia doing any thing against us in Afghanistan .

  • Alija Izetbegović

    No. Americans are to blame and nobody else. And that MOAB made situation for them a lot worse. But how can you explain that to Simpleton In Chief

  • ALEXANDRU Nemoianu

    Well sometimes what goes round also comes round.

  • ThorsteinVeblen2012

    Payback is a …..

  • chris chuba

    I recall that during the Vietnam war and 70’s we used to have a Press Corps that was actually skeptical regarding statements from the Pentagon. Now they can say anything with the full assurance that no one in the MSM will ask them an even slightly uncomfortable question. This practically begs them to lie to use some more, why wouldn’t they? It’s human nature.

    I consider the U.S. MSM are the bigger war criminals. What’s next, the Iranians and Russians are conducting Satanic rituals under a full moon that involve the killing of Christian babies, Gen. ‘I’m not refuting that’.

  • NobodysaysBOO

    General BULL TURDGENSON?

    120 to 200 MILLION AMERICAN DEAD TOPS!

    WE MUST not allow a MINE SHAFT GAP!

  • Tim Hadfield

    A bit of projection here, I think.

  • CuriousNC

    If someone is arming them I’d first look at Pakistan after the CIA.

  • David Hall

    Supported by Russia or not, you can’t defeat an insurgency if you allow them sanctuary in a neighboring state. That should have been the lesson of Vietnam but the military and all the war mongers (damn near the whole country it seems) rewrote the history to blame it on Hippies and the press. So they got the Hippies and the Press stump broke but we’re still losing. The scary lesson is you don’t need a Ministry of Truth to rewrite history.

  • Milly Vanilly

    What flavor Kool Aid does the CIA give this general ?

  • survivor

    Come on General it is actually Putin himself arming the Taliban. Actually, in the middle of the night Putin fly’s in covertly and hands the Taliban weapons and even tells them where to attack.