By Gwynne Dyer

US President Joe Biden’s announcement that the last American troops will be out of Afghanistan by 11 September is bad news for the Afghans. Once they are gone, the Taliban will take back power in Afghanistan, probably within months, certainly within a few years.

That will be hard on the Afghans. Twenty years of being chased around the hills by gunships has probably not moderated the Taliban’s views.

And when journalists asked Biden the inevitable question – doesn’t he feel any responsibility for Afghan human rights? – he said “Zero responsibility. The responsibility I have is to protect America’s self-interests and not to put our women and men in harm’s way to try to solve every single problem in the world by the use of force.”

Finally, a senior American politician using words as if they mean something. But it didn’t last. Soon enough a ‘senior official’ was talking twaddle on Biden’s behalf: “We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11th and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack [from].”

Ridiculous. ‘Justice’ could have been delivered by a single assassin or one mass bombing raid on the camp of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, tucked away deep in the Afghan hills. The invasion was just show business.

The 9/11 attacks were plotted by al-Qaeda members in Germany, and all 19 hijackers were Arabs, not Afghans. They were trained in Afghanistan because bin Laden was given refuge there by the Taliban, an Islamist regime, but it would have been madness for bin Laden to tell the Taliban what he was planning.

Some of the brighter people in the US intelligence services would have known that. However, President George W. Bush needed to invade somewhere to discharge American rage about the 9/11 attack (which he had failed to prevent), and where else could it be than Afghanistan?

It has taken all this time to get the US troops out again, but there is no evidence that invasion prevented a single terrorist attack on the United States. Nevertheless, the same lies must be told until the end because there’s no other way to justify what happened.

And now on to Ukraine, which Russia is allegedly getting ready to invade: daily reports of the Russian military build-up, and veiled hints that Russian President Vladimir Putin is out to conquer the world. After all, he’s a proven aggressor: Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine.

Putin is a dictator, but he leads a country with about one-sixth of the population of the NATO countries and one-tenth of the economic strength. Even his aggressions are small-time stuff.

Stupid as it seems, it was Georgia that started the war with Russia in 2008, hoping to seize South Ossetia.

Crimea was settled by Russians after its previous rulers, Turkic-speaking Muslims, were conquered in 1783. It remained Russian until Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine on a whim in 1954. Putin took it back non-violently sixty years later with warm support from the mainly Russian population, although that was certainly illegal.

So is Russia’s support for Russian-speaking rebels in two eastern provinces of Ukraine, which is just like Ronald Reagan’s military backing for ‘Contra’ rebels against the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s.

Putin is definitely a naughty boy, but a big-time invader of important places? This is just the media stirring things up, with some help from the politicians.