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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, April 19, 2009

A member of a carry team stands by at Dover Air Force Base, Del., as two American Flag draped transfer cases containing the remains of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ray A. Spencer of Los Angeles, and U.S. Army Private First Class Richard A. Dewater of Topeka, Kan., are lowered to the tarmac, Saturday, April 18, 2009. Spencer and Dewater died in Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Reported Security Incidents


Two mortar rounds hit the Green Zone on Saturday, the first such attack since January. No damage is reported. The attack is said to come from eastern Baghdad, taking advantage of a sandstorm for cover.


Car bomb, possibly targeting a U.S. patrol, injures 7 civilians.

Other News of the Day

Vote for new Parliament Speaker finally scheduled for later today.

Dahr Jamail discusses the growing tensions between the Shiite-led government and the Sunni Sahwa militias, created by the U.S. as part of the so-called "surge" strategy. He sees danger of renewed sectarian violence.

Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project "connects Iraqis and Americans through joint education, art, and humanitarian aid projects." If it sounds interesting, check it out.

NYT's Rod Nordland reports that reduced violence and eased security restrictions in Baghdad have brought renewed vice, or at least what passes for vice in a relatively conservative society -- liquor stores, night clubs, gambling, prostitution, and -- gasp! -- dating.

Afghanistan Update

Attack on a police checkpoint in Farah province kills 5 police. Provincial officials say there were Pakistanis and Chechens among the attackers, but the basis for this claim is not stated.

Missile apparently fired from a U.S. drone kills either 3 or 7 suspected militants, according to differing reports, in South Waziristan, Pakistan.

U.S. and Afghan forces kill an unspecified number of people in a battle in Kandahar Province.

And, once again, as I find myself posting every single week, Hamid Karzai asked Gen. David McKiernan to explain the reported deaths of six civilians in two incidents. Now you know why I identify the dead in the link above only as "people." They might have been combatants, and then again, they might not. Excerpt:

Karzai's office said three civilians were killed by international forces in Helmand province on Friday. The NATO-led force said three people were killed when its forces fired on a vehicle from which a man who was "posing a threat" was exiting. Two people inside the vehicle were also killed, it said.

"The death of a single innocent Afghan is a tragedy," said Capt. Mark Durkin, a spokesman for the NATO-led force. An investigation is under way, he said.

Karzai said three civilians, including a woman, also were killed in Logar province. The NATO-led force said in a statement that three militants were killed Saturday during an operation in Logar.

Quote of the Day

It would be good for Al-Qaeda if US forces stayed in Iraq, because they could justify their kidnappings, bombings and killings.

Iraq Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari