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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

News of the Day for Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reported Security Incidents

Baghdad

Gunmen attack an Iraqi army checkpoint in Mansour, killing 1 soldier and injuring another.

Undersecretary of Planning Mahdi al-Allaq survives an assassination attempt by a bomb attack on his convoy. Two guards and 2 bystanders are injured.

Mosul

A civilian is killed by a bomb.

Baquba

Four civilians injured by an IED.

Khalis

An Iraqi army captain and 5 soldiers are killed by an "explosive" attack on their patrol. (Not stated whether this was an IED or perhaps an RPG or other form of projectile.)

Other News of the Day

You don't need this site to tell you that an Iraqi court has sentenced Tariq Aziz to death for violent suppression of Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party. Sunni partisans of course see this as an act of revenge. Mark Seddon, in The Guardian, gives some background info on Aziz:

I may have been the last western journalist to interview Aziz in the cavernous, echoing halls of the old foreign ministry in Baghdad, literally weeks before the cruise missiles of "shock and awe" cascaded into the city. Aziz was sitting in a large armchair, Iraqi flags to his left and right, puffing on an extra large cigar. "I have met your Mr Heath and Mrs Thatcher, but not your Mr Blair," he told me.

"Please tell Mr Blair that we have no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Aziz continued. "Please tell him that he is welcome to come here, or send anyone who wishes to see for themselves."

I wasn't sure just how serious Aziz was with his offer – although having spent time with the former head of the Unscom weapons inspections team, Scott Ritter, I was pretty sure that Aziz was telling the truth about WMD. So I did pass the message on to Tony Blair, who looked at me rather strangely.

Could it be, then, that the death sentence is partly an insurance against any future Iraqi government showing clemency? Tariq Aziz is old and unwell, but he has the mother of stories to tell. Throughout the 1980s, when Saddam was seen as an invaluable bulwark against the Iranian ayatollahs, a succession of western politicians and businessmen paid homage at the court of Tariq Aziz.

Donald Rumsfeld was even pictured watching Iraqi rockets being fired on the Fawr Peninsula. Perhaps Aziz, who could tell the whole story of western involvement in Iraq, before, during and after the war, simply has to be got rid of.

Russ Wellen of the Institute for Policy Studies comments on the WikiLeaks dump. He links to coverage by The Guardian, which I'll allow you to follow for yourself if you are interested:

As we all recall, in attempt to justify the Iraq War, the Bush administration claimed that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction and that it harbored al Qaeda. While those didn't pass the smell test, there was truth to their illegitimate reasons for the invasion: staking a claim to Iraqi oil, establishing a security base in the Middle East other than fickle Saudi Arabia, and just putting the fear of God (or Allah) into the Middle East.

One other justification, deposing a serial human rights violator, suckered in many, even some liberals. Deep down, they must have known that the Bush administration would never launch a war out of ethical considerations. What country does really? They seemed to embrace the result, though, even if it wasn't done for the right motivation. But the recent WikiLeaks document dump shows the extent to which Bush & Co. failed at even halting human rights violations.

Afghanistan Update

District police chief and 3 police officers killed by a land mine in Herat.

NYT's Dexter Filkins and Alissa J. Rubin report that ostensible U.S. puppet Hamid Karzai is apparently not a big fan of the United States.

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