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, September 12, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Iraqi soldier searches a resident at a checkpoint in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighbourhood September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen

Reported Security Incidents

al-Hdaid orchards, near Baquba

Varying casualty tolls reported in gunfight between insurgents and Iraqi security forces. Three or four police and soldiers reported killed, and three to five insurgents, after police pursue attackers on a police patrol and apparently surround them.

Also, in Baquba proper, in what appears to be a separate incident, one civilian is killed and another injured by a roadside bomb.

Other News of the Day

Iraq agrees to pay $400 million in compensation to Americans who claim they were abused by the Saddam Hussein regime. The U.S. Embassy gives no details on who the victims are or the basis of their claims; but this appears to be related to the taking of hostages prior to the 1991 Gulf War. As AP notes, "the deal is likely to anger Iraqis who consider themselves the victims’ of both Saddam and the 2003 US invasion, and wonder why they should pay money for wrongs committed by the ousted dictator. . . . Generally such agreements have to be approved by the Cabinet, but this settlement would likely be extremely unpopular among Iraqis who survived years under Saddam only to suffer vicious sectarian fighting after the American invasion. Approving such a settlement would likely be politically toxic for any Iraqi government, and the matter is further complicated by the fact that Iraq is in month six without a new government after the March 7 elections."

Glenn Greenwald, noting that victims of torture by the U.S. have been denied access to the courts on grounds of "national security secrets," is shrill. (Warning: Obnoxious pop-up.)

So, to recap: the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment. Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even though other countries have provided the victims with compensation for their much more minor role in what happened. Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.

But we invade, occupy and destroy Iraq -- while severely abusing, torturing and killing their citizens -- and then demand, as a condition for our allowing the end of crippling sanctions, that they fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American torture victims, even though it all happened 20 years ago, under an Iraqi regime that no longer even exists. They hate us for our Freedoms.

The 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion departs Ft. Hood for Iraq. Lest you think the war being over means U.S. troops only come home, sadly, no.

Gwynne Dyer is also shrill. Excerpt:

People often wind up believing their own cover story. Former British prime minister Tony Blair, for example, is trapped forever in the rationalizations he used in 2003 to explain why he was going along with George Bush's invasion of Iraq. He was at it again last week, telling the BBC that "radical Islam" is the greatest threat facing the world today. . . .

Blair has to say it is, because he was one of the people who launched a crusade against radical Islamists after 9/11. Or at least against those whom they accused of being supporters of radical Islam, although many of them (like Saddam Hussein) were nothing of the sort.

Blair has never publicly acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was actually an enemy of radical Islam: admitting it would drain the last dram of logic from his justification for invading Iraq. So he only talks in general terms about fighting "radical Islam," and hopes that the more ignorant part of the public will think that includes the Iraq war.

Afghanistan Update

Two protesters are shot and killed by police in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province, as demonstrations continue against the (now apparently canceled) plans to burn the Koran by some obscure idiot.

NATO says 5 Taliban, including a commander, are killed by infantry in Nangarhar province.

Kingsman Darren Deady, 22, from Bolton, Lancashire, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, on Friday, of wounds suffered on August 23.

Russia's ambassador to Afghanistan says U.S. and NATO have royally screwed up. (I paraphrase.) Excerpt:

The New York Post quoted Ambassador Avetisyan, as saying that talk of a handover to the Afghans was currently unrealistic because the coalition had failed to build the nation's forces or economy.

He also said the West was responsible for the blight of rampant corruption in the administration because it had taken the decision to plough in huge sums into badly coordinated and opaque aid projects. .. .

Ambassador Avetisyan said the West had not learned from Soviet mistakes.They are repeating all of them and they are making new ones," he told The Sunday Telegraph. Ambassador Avetisyan said NATO had "wasted" nine years not building an Afghan army to replace them.

He said: "Only now have people started to realise 'Oh, we must have someone to secure the country when we leave'. "But it is not possible to do in several months, or years. If serious training of the Afghan army is started now, it will take in my opinion at least five years. If the international community had started this several years ago, then now it would be realistic to talk about transition timetables and withdrawal," he said.

Eugene Robinson seems to suspect the Afghan government of corruption. I can't imagine where he got that idea.

ust how corrupt is the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan? It should be clear by now that President Hamid Karzai doesn't want us to know. He'd prefer that we just keep sending our troops and our dollars, and not ask too many questions.

Karzai's government announced last week that American and allied advisers, dispatched to Kabul to help investigate massive and endemic graft, will no longer be allowed to do any actual investigating. Karzai's chief of staff told The Washington Post that the government is still determined to eliminate corruption, but intends to do so “within an Afghan framework.”

And what a framework it is. Karzai is evidently upset that foreign advisers helped build a case against one of his high-ranking aides, Mohammad Zia Salehi, who is charged with soliciting a bribe — $10,000 plus a new car — from a money-exchange firm. In return, according to the charges, Salehi was supposed to derail an investigation into allegations that the company, called New Ansari, had illegally shipped $3 billion in cash out of the country. Most of the funds ended up in Dubai, where many of the wealthy Afghan elite have settled.

Salehi was arrested, but Karzai intervened to have him released from jail just seven hours later. Karzai has said that the use of wiretaps to build the case against Salehi was a violation of “human rights principles.” I wonder what other standard investigative techniques don't fit within the “Afghan framework.”

Rod Nordland of the NYT reports aid groups say security is going backwards. Excerpt:

Even as more American troops flow into the country, Afghanistan is more dangerous than it has ever been during this war, with security deteriorating in recent months, according to international organizations and humanitarian groups. Large parts of the country that were once completely safe, like most of the northern provinces, now have a substantial Taliban presence — even in areas where there are few Pashtuns, who previously were the Taliban’s only supporters. As NATO forces poured in and shifted to the south to battle the Taliban in their stronghold, the Taliban responded with a surge of their own, greatly increasing their activities in the north and parts of the east. . . .

Unarmed government employees can no longer travel safely in 30 percent of the country’s 368 districts, according to published United Nations estimates, and there are districts deemed too dangerous to visit in all but one of the country’s 34 provinces.

The number of insurgent attacks has increased significantly; in August 2009, insurgents carried out 630 attacks. This August, they initiated at least 1,353, according to the Afghan N.G.O. Safety Office, an independent organization financed by Western governments and agencies to monitor safety for aid workers.

Quote of the Day

The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response. And over the past nine years, the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another. Bin Laden deserves to be the object of our hostility, national anguish and contempt, and he deserves to be taken seriously as a canny tactician. But much of what he has achieved we have done, and continue to do, to ourselves. Bin Laden does not deserve that we, even inadvertently, fulfill so many of his unimagined dreams.

Ted Koppel


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

alpha male said...

This is a sort of blog we can have loads of information i would like to appreciate the intelligence of this blog's owner