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

Monday, April 5, 2010

News of the Day for Monday, April 5, 2010

Since Whisker appears to be disconnected from the AllThing, I figured I'd step in with as much of an update as I can do today. Sorry about yesterday, I didn't get back to civilization myself until late in the day. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Death toll in yesterday's car bomb attacks near diplomatic missions stands at 42. The precise motive for attacks that appear to have been directed against the Iranian, German and Syrian diplomatic missions is unclear; it may largely have been an attempt to discredit the Maliki government. In any event, analysts are concerned about more violence as bargaining continues over formation of a new government.


Police find the body of a man dead of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

A man is killed in a drive-by shooting on Sunday night.


IED attack on a joint patrol of Iraqi police and U.S. forces kills 2 Iraqi policemen. VoI says U.S. forces routinely join Iraqis in patrolling near the Iranian border. And I'll bet you thought they had withdrawn to bases. Nope.


Body of a police man, dead of gunshot wounds, is found in a farm field. His brother commits suicide on hearing the news.

Other News of the Day

VP Adel Abdul-Mahdi is in Turkey for talks. It is unclear what role Abdul-Mahdi, a leader of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, will have if and when a new government is formed, or what the role and influence will be of Kurdistan. Hence it seems to me unclear what, if anything, Abdul-Mahdi can achieve at this time. -- C

And indeed, Tom Hundley wonders whether any of the deals already made by the government government, notably oil contracts, can survive the transition. Excerpt:

After a spectacularly successful auction of drilling rights last December, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government spent the first few months of this year putting the finishing touches on 10 separate deals that, if implemented successfully, could see Iraq challenging Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading producer within the decade.

By any measure, these deals were the singular accomplishment of Maliki’s tenure. Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani earned the respect of the international oil community for driving a very hard bargain and delivering a deal that should quickly put his nation on the path to prosperity.

But in Iraq’s fevered political climate, no deal makes everyone happy, and the oil contracts could easily become a casualty as Iyad Allawi, the declared winner in last month’s election, begins the messy process of stitching together a governing coalition.

Afghanistan Update

British soldier killed Sunday near FOB Zeebrugge, Helmand Province, while on foot patrol.

Times of London makes a very disturbing report. This is going to be a real test of the commitment of the U.S. military to integrity and accountability, which has been sadly lacking regarding the treatment of civilians in both wars. NATO's response so far is not at all encouraging. -- C. Excerpt:

US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times. Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.

The claims were made as NATO admitted responsibility for all the deaths for the first time last night. It had initially claimed that the women had been dead for several hours when the assault force discovered their bodies. “Despite earlier reports we have determined that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale, a NATO spokesman. The coalition continued to deny that there had been a cover-up and said that its legal investigation, which is ongoing, had found no evidence of inappropriate conduct.

The Kabul headquarters of General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and Nato forces, claimed originally that the women had been “tied up, gagged and killed”. A senior Afghan official involved in a government investigation told The Times: “I think the special forces lied to McChrystal.”

I recommend Glenn Greenwald's rant about corporate media coverage of this atrocity. Money quote:

Starkey describes some of the understandable reasons so many reporters do nothing more than regurgitate officials claims: resource constraints, organizations limits, dangers of traveling around, and the "embed culture." But he also recounts how NATO tries to intimidate, censor and punish any reporters like him who report adversely on official claims. Illustratively, in response to Starkey's March 13 article detailing what really happened at Paktia and the cover-up that ensued, NATO issued a formal statement singling him out and accusing him of publishing an article that was "categorically false." As recently as that mid-March statement, NATO was still claiming -- falsely -- that the women in Paktia were killed prior to the arrival of American troops, and they were impugning the integrity of the reporter (Starkey) who was proving otherwise.

I expect the perpetrators will get promotions rather than courts martial. We shall see. -- C

Anand Gopal reports for The Nation: "In its attempt to stamp out the growing Taliban insurgency and Al Qaeda, the US military has been arresting suspects and sending them to one of a number of secret detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. These night raids have become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The raids and detentions, little known or understood outside the Pashtun villages, have been turning Afghans against the very forces many of them greeted as liberators just a few years ago." (What the hell are we doing there again? What is the purpose of this enterprise? -- C)

Update: We have at least one regular commenter who might want to read this:

Yesterday, the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion on conservatism and the war in Afghanistan with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). . . .

ROHRABACHER: Well, now that we know that it cost a trillion dollars and all of these years and all of these lives and all of this blood, uh, I don’t know many…

NORQUIST: Looking for a number. Two-thirds? One-third?

ROHRABACHER: I, I can’t. All I can say is the people, everybody I know thinks it was a mistake to go in now.

NORQUIST: That’s 100 percent.

Norquist then turned to McClintock, asking “what percentage”:

NORQUIST: Of Republicans in Congress, who would agree with the general analysis here that it was a mistake and/or we should go in.

MCCLINTOCK: I think everyone would agree Iraq was a mistake.

NORQUIST: Two hundred percents. Ok, we’re going to average these.

MCCLINTOCK: And, you know, again, I think virtually everyone would agree going into Afghanistan the way we did was a mistake. How many share my, my cynicism over this idea of a resolution of force, which I can’t find anywhere in the Constitution. And how many believe that in those rare cases where we go in, we put all of our resources behind our soldiers, I would say certainly more than half of the Republican caucus probably believe that.


dancewater said...

watch this video:

Cervantes said...

For those who don't want to establish a Youtube account or otherwise can't watch the video, a description of what Dancewater is talking about is here. "until-now secret video of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 repeatedly opening fire on a group of men that included a Reuters photographer and his driver -- and then on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men.

None of the members of the group were taking hostile action, contrary to the Pentagon's initial cover story; they were milling about on a street corner. One man was evidently carrying a gun, though that was and is hardly an uncommon occurrence in Baghdad.

Reporters working for WikiLeaks determined that the driver of the van was a good Samaritan on his way to take his small children to a tutoring session. He was killed and his two children were badly injured.

In the video, which Reuters has been asking to see since 2007, crew members can be heard celebrating their kills.

"Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards," says one crewman after multiple rounds of 30mm cannon fire left nearly a dozen bodies littering the street.

A crewman begs for permission to open fire on the van and its occupants, even though it has done nothing but stop to help the wounded: "Come on, let us shoot!"

thewiz said...

C. I'm sure your awaiting my response. First of all, we went to war with what we knew at the time and that it was justified at the time. As for now, its still too early to tell. Maybe we will know in another twenty years. Hell, people are still arguing about using the A-bomb to end WWII.

Now, since you seem to be the only one here with reasonable intelligence, would you care to take a crack at helping out poor old Sue and Black Friday at explaining what is meant by "they hate us for our freedom"?


dancewater said...


dancewater said...

Karzai says he might join the Taliban.

Probably because the Taliban are winning.

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