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, November 1, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, November 1, 2009

A US soldier surveys the area of the destroyed Justice Ministry in central Baghdad. Muslim clerics slammed Iraqi authorities in their Friday prayer sermons over massive bombings last week, as a top US general warned that he expected insurgents to plan more spectacular attacks.
(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

Reported Security Incidents


Suspect in last Sunday's bombing of government buildings grabs gun from a guard and kills his interrogator. The suspect is then shot dead.

near Hilla

Five killed, 20 injured when a bomb planted on a bicycle explodes in a marketplace in Mussayab. Note: Some sources give the death toll as 6.

Eight people injured by IED attack in Jabla marketplace.


Sticky bomb attack on a minibus kills 1 woman, injures 13 people.


Three killed, 5 injured by suicide car bombing at the entrance to the city.

In a separate incident (same link) police officer injured by a bombing in a police parking garage.

A mortar attack on the U.S. base in Habaneya apparently hits an ammunition depot, causing numerous explosions. No reported casualties.

Other News of the Day

Qassim al-Abboudi of the Independent High Electoral Commission says the January elections will have to be delayed in Parliament does not pass an electoral law within two days. Parliament has been deadlocked over the status of Kirkuk, which is claimed by the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.

In case you had forgotten about him, George W. Bush tells an audience in India that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was unavoidable because "it was felt" that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction™, and was not allowing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in. (The latter statement is objectively, indisputably false, although Bush has said it before. -- C) Bush said, "My hope was to disarm Saddam peacefully... I am sorry we had to use military but there was no choice." (I'm puzzled. Yesterday was Halloween, not April Fool's Day. -- C)

Afghanistan Update

One British, one U.S. military member killed in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan. As usual, no further details are given on the U.S. casualty but the British MoD reports the attack took place near Sangin, Helmand Province, and the soldier belonged to the Royal Logistics Corps.

Presidential challenger Abdullah Abdullah withdraws from the race, saying the Karzai government has not provided adequate assurances against fraud. Excerpt:

The decision which I am going to announce was not an easy one. It was a decision that I have taken after wide-ranging consultations, with the people of Afghanistan, my supporters and influential leaders," Abdullah told supporters. "In protest against the misconduct of the government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC), I will not participate in the election," he added in an address in Kabul.

During his lengthy address, the former foreign minister launched a scathing attack on Karzai's eight-year rule, dimming the prospects that the two rivals could yet agree on some form of power-sharing agreement.

Canadian news analyst Ian Munroe discusses the severe strains in the NATO alliance caused by the failing mission in Afghanistan. This dire picture of the possible destruction of NATO is not presented in U.S. news media, as far as I have found. But we really are close to that point. -- C Excerpt:

Counterinsurgency experts say it would take a force of 400,000 to 500,000 to secure all of Afghanistan, a mountainous country larger than France or Ukraine. But keeping enough NATO troops on the ground to provide even scaled-back security in urban areas could be an uphill battle.

Canada has pledged to stop its military operations there by the end of 2010. The Dutch parliament passed a motion earlier this month barring the renewal of its Afghan presence. And Denmark's leader recently said his country's commitment depends on whether Afghanistan's Nov. 7 presidential runoff goes well.

Many European countries may follow whatever Germany decides to do. Europe's most populous country has had a withdrawal plan in place since April, according to security analyst Sunil Ram. It also has the third-largest contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan.

"It's a tough slog in Germany," said Dan Hamilton, a NATO expert at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in Baltimore. "The image of German soldiers killing civilians haunts the debate, given their history."

Audits of the Afghan election commission find millions of dollars unaccounted for.

"Everybody kept sending money" to the elections commission, said Peter Galbraith, the former deputy chief of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan. "Nobody put the brakes on. U.S. taxpayers spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a fraudulent election." Galbraith, a deputy to the senior U.N. official in Afghanistan, was fired last month after protesting fraud in the elections.

Quote of the Day

I would like to talk to each official and ask him, what was this girl’s sin? Why you do not provide us with security? Why are you only busy with your disputes?

Ali Hussien Hamza, whose 5 year old daughter Istabraq was injured in last Sunday's bomb attack. (The linked article by Ali Karim of IWPR discusses the disillusionment with the government which has followed the recent atrocities. It's worth reading, and you won't read this in the corporate media.)