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 22, 2009

News of the Day for Sunday, November 22, 2009

Iraqi Shiite protesters chant slogans against the veto made by Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president Tariq al-Hashemi on the election law, in front of a banner which reads in Arabic ' Nothing to fear on Iraq as long as Maliki is in power', in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

Reported Security Incidents


Suicide car bomb attack on a police patrol kills 3 police, injures 6 police and three other people. Note: Other reports of what I presume is the same incident have lower casualty totals. But the higher reported totals are usually correct as the count goes up over time. - C


A sketchy account for VoI seems to be saying that an army officer shot a judge in the courthouse, and also injured a court officer. More on this if it becomes available.

Teacher shot dead in front of his house.

Two Iraqi soldiers injured by a roadside bomb on Saturday.


Six people injured by a bomb in downtown Baghdad.

Sahwa council member shot dead in Azamiyah. AP also reports two police officers killed by a sticky bomb on Saturday. The latter incident was reported too late to make Whisker's post yesterday.


A "sound bomb" explodes at the university, injuring one student. I assume this refers to a device designed to produce maximum noise in relation to its explosive power.


Unidentified man is killed in a drive-by shooting.

Other News of the Day

Iraq government broadcasts video of former Baathists confessing to the October 25 bombings of government buildings. Excerpt:

Former police officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Hassan Aiyed admitted to plotting Oct. 25 attacks at the Justice Ministry and Baghdad Provincial Council. "I received a call on Oct. 12 from Abdul Sattar Mahdi Najem (a senior Baath party member in Iraq) telling me that we have orders from the party leadership to prepare for a major bombing in Baghdad near the provincial council and the Justice ministry," he said.

The video also showed two other Baath party members named Abdul Sattar Mahdi Najem and Ammar Abdul Aziz Mahdi were also telling details about their role in the attacks and how they passed checkpoints until they reached their targets in central the capital.

As efforts continue to resolve objections to the election law by Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders, the January election date now appears impossible. Kurds are threatening a boycott over the allocation of seats, which they believe underrepresent their numbers, and Sunni Arab VP Hashemi has vetoed the legislation over what he says is underrepresentation of expatriates.

So what else is new? department: UK military had no plans for what to do after Baghdad and Basra were conquered. Obviously, since the U.S. didn't either and presumably if one of them had a clue they would have shared it with the other. -- C Excerpt:

"The coalition plan effectively contained no detail once Baghdad and Basra had been taken and the regime removed," said a confidential army analysis of the first two years of the war in Iraq, published by The Sunday Telegraph.

The analysis warned this caused a "notable loss of momentum" and allowed insurgents to regroup, adding: "The inability to restore security early during the occupation was a critical failure." It said: "There was an absence of political direction for what, overall, the UK wished to achieve."

Oh yeah, Sayeth the Sunday Telegraph (not exactly the People's Daily, BTW) "Tony Blair, the former prime minister, misled MPs and the public throughout 2002 when he claimed that Britain’s objective was “disarmament, not regime change” and that there had been no planning for military action. In fact, British military planning for a full invasion and regime change began in February 2002." The need to keep the plans secret is one reason, according to the Telegraph, that the plans were so lousy. I recommend following this link and seeing all the Sunday Telegraph has to offer. Will we ever see the same accountability in the U.S.? Not if Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress can help it -- they have said they aren't interested in looking back. Obviously the U.S. and U.K. were coordinating their plans throughout. What we see in these U.K. documents is a window into what was also happening in Washington. Not that the corporate media here will pay any attention. -- C

Afghanistan Update

Rocket hits the Serena hotel in Kabul, injuring 4 people. "The Serena Hotel, owned by the Aga Khan, was attacked in January 2008 by a commander of the Taliban, with the deaths of eight people. It is Kabul's only five-star hotel and has been heavily-fortified since the 2008 attack. It is the hotel of choice for visiting VIPs."

Five border police killed by a bomb in Spin Boldak, according to the government. The Taliban claim it was actually an RPG attack, and that the toll was six.

UN officials in Kabul decry the plight of Afghanistan's children. Excerpt:

At a news conference marking the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, officials said children’s rights were being neglected despite vast flows of Western aid into the country. “Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world,” said Catherine Mbengue, country representative for the UN children’s fund UNICEF. “Seventy percent of the population has no access to safe drinking water. Thirty percent of children are involved in child labour. Forty-three percent of girls are married under-age,” she said.

More than one in four children born in Afghanistan die before the age of five, according to UNICEF estimates, although recent research still due to be published suggests this level has been reduced to around one in five.

A member of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, Hamida Barmaki, said: “Violence against children in Afghanistan is widespread. Children are abused and insulted both in society and within homes.” Hansjorg Kretschmer, head of the European Union’s representative office, said the country’s Child Protection Network had received 1,459 reports of sexual exploitation of children in 2008 but this was “the tip of the iceberg”.

A spokesman for Hamid Karzai repeats the possibility of a Loya Jirga to achieve reconciliation with insurgents. Nothing specific is announced, however.

Quote of the Day

The jury is out on whether the Iraqi political class will figure out how to use oil revenues to strengthen national unity or whether they will engage in mutually destructive feuds over how to divide up the pie.

Former U.S. diplomat David Mack. I recommend reading this story, which outlines a key problem for Iraq's future.