Afghanistan War Secrets / Magic, Mind, & Science

Afghanistan War Secrets / Magic, Mind, & Science

Date

HostGeorge Noory

GuestsCraig Whitlock, Robert Ramsay, Joe Nickell

In the first half, Washington Post investigative reporter Craig Whitlock discussed the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of 9-11. In his view, the US's entry into Afghanistan was justified in order to deny Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network a safe haven there. But soon, Whitlock argued, the mission began to suffer from a lack of clear objectives and strategy on the part of the United States. In addition, the American-backed Afghan government and its army failed to demonstrate the ability to defend the country against the Taliban, the Sunni Islamist military organization that had initially permitted al-Qaeda's arrival. Even the Afghan people, weary from years of war and foreign occupation, were not particularly committed to the plans the United States had for a post-al Qaeda, post-Taliban nation.

Unwilling to admit that the situation was becoming more futile, dangerous, and expensive every year, Whitlock said, senior American military officials in Afghanistan—as well as White House officials in Washington—resorted to misleading the public about the progress that was being made. And despite the efforts of presidents George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump to establish enough stability there to formulate an exit plan, no solution was forthcoming. Meanwhile, not only had bin Laden long departed Afghanistan, the US remained mired in its conflict with the Taliban for about a decade after his capture and killing in Pakistan. Finally, still without a favorable exit strategy, President Joe Biden made the decision to completely and suddenly withdraw American military and diplomatic forces from Afghanistan earlier this year. The public in the United States, who were largely under the impression that the mission had been successful, were shocked to witness the Taliban handily overpower the Afghan government almost immediately after American forces had evacuated.

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For wizard and musician Robert Ramsay, the guest in the second half, magic is the "engineering of coincidence." This definition sets real magic apart from popular conceptions of fantastical feats or spell-casting, he explained. Instead, he went on, magic is the experience all people can experience through various everyday synchronicities; natural science is the basis of magic. And as with any skill, practice is essential to its mastery.

As an example of the type of magic he practices, Ramsay offered the analogy of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. As opposed to changing reality as a supernatural magician would, he said, he navigates all "adventures," moving to the one he wants.

Near the end of the show, researcher and investigator Joe Nickell joined to give an update on the latest focus of his study: Bigfoot. Nickell stressed that as a career scientist, he employs a rigorous method to his research; he also expressed his frustration with some of his colleagues, who take a "debunker" stance to the paranormal and unusual, as opposed to a more empirical approach.

News Segment guests: Christian Wilde, Kevin Randle

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