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, August 15, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, August 15, 2010

Iraqi army soldiers secure the scene of a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010. Series of rush hour bombings across Baghdad have killed and injured scores of people, officials said. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) So much for those concrete blast walls.

Reported Security Incidents


Bomb attack on a minibus kills 3, including a police officer.

Series of three small explosions in a commercial district kills one civilian and injures 3.

Roadside bomb attack on a police patrol near al-Shaab stadium kills one officer.

RPG kills one, injures three on a "main street" in eastern Baghdad. Oddly, only DPA mentions this incident, rather cryptically.

Jurf al-Sakhr

Three people killed, one injured, in drive-by shooting of worshipers exiting the Sunni Abid Wais mosque following morning prayers.


A pharmacist, recently returned from studies in the U.S., is murdered in a home invasion.

Other News of the Day

Asharq Al-Awsat reports various scuttlebutt about negotiations to form a new government, including a claim that the Dawa Party has voted to find an alternative candidate to Nuri al-Maliki. It is not clear, however, whether the Sadrists will support another Dawa candidate. You can never tell about this anonymously sourced stuff, but regardless, it isn't clear that such a move would bring us any closer to a new government, since al-Iraqiya won't necessarily accept any National Alliance PM.

WaPo's Ernesto Londono interviews special forces commander Brig. Gen. Patrick Higgins on the state of AQI. He says the organization's "cellular structure" is intact despite the death of some leaders; and that it is financing itself through kidnapping and extortion. He discusses Iraqi commando forces:

When the US military draws down to 50,000 troops in Iraq by the end of the month, the US Special Operations command here will remain at about 4,500-strong. Higgins said US commandos have no plans to conduct unilateral counterterrorism operations in the months ahead, and he said their Iraqi counterparts have become more proficient.

“We’ve got them to a level of what I call good enough-ness,’’ he said. “Tactically, they are very sound.’’

The Iraqi commandos will continue to need US support in gathering and analyzing intelligence and putting together cases to support prosecutions, he said.

Iraq’s main counterterrorism unit reports to Maliki, a setup that many in the previous Parliament protested. As a result, the unit operates with no legal mandate and subsists on funds diverted from the Defense Ministry.

Anthony Shadid uses the occasion of the departure of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill to comment on the state of power sharing negotiations. His analysis is succinct and makes some specific points we don't hear much. A) The nascent deal would sideline the Sadrists (See Asharq al-Awsat story, above), and B) Iran is very leery of Iyad Allawi.

Afghanistan Update

Dept. of This is all we need:Geological survey said to find oil deposits estimated at 1.8 billion barrels in Balkh and Jawzjan provinces. That may sound like a lot but it's really pretty small potatoes as oil fields go. Still, one more excuse to keep fighting . . .

Uzbek militants attack a police in Kunduz, killing one officer. NATO forces then attack the militants' vehicle from the air, killing two. The attackers are said to be from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

Twenty militants of various nationalities affiliated with the Haqqani network are said to be killed over several days in southern Paktia province. Although this is billed as a joint coalition-Afghan operation, most of the casualties are said to result from NATO air strikes.

Three killed, dozens injured in ethnic violence in Kabul. Accounts of the conflict between resident Hazaras and nomadic Kuchis are widely disparate. Also, a dispute over land between Haider Khil and Warza tribes in Khost leaves 8 dead. This just serves to remind us once again that there is no such thing as a nation state of Afghanistan. -- C

Quote of the Day

There is something about the breed of today’s top military brass that makes them come off more like politician/cheerleaders as opposed to the cigar chomping Generals George Patton and Chesty Puller who told the truth, regardless of who it offended. How a generation that grew up—or in some cases, served—in the Vietnam conflict—with all its lies, manipulations, and cover-ups to continue a losing conflict—could today replay those sordid events upon assuming power and rank is beyond me.

Clayton Swisher Interesting commentary by an American analyst for al Jazeera