The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Plug of the Day

Michiko Kakutani reviews Standard Operating Procedure, By Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, the book tied to their movie of the same name. Disgracefully, the horror of Abu Ghraib has nearly been forgotten in the U.S., but it demonstrates very well indeed how hollow are the claims that the U.S. adventure in Iraq has anything to do with "liberating" the Iraqi people or bestowing on them the gift of democracy. Kakutani ends with this:

“Nobody was ever charged with torture, or war crimes, or any violation of the Geneva Conventions,” Mr. Gourevitch concludes. “Nobody ever faced charges for keeping prisoners naked, or shackled.” Nor did anybody face charges “for arresting thousands of civilians without direct cause and holding them indefinitely, incommunicado, in concentration camp conditions.” Nor, he says, was there anything to show for it all — “no great score of useful intelligence, no ends to justify the means.”

“Nobody has ever even bothered to pretend otherwise,” he says; the horror “was entirely gratuitous.”