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 21, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, November 21, 2010

The transfer case containing the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy of Pago Pago, American Samoa sits at the end of the loader ramp upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. The Department of Defense announced the death of Gandy who was supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Reported Security Incidents

Sherquat, Salah U'Din Province

Bomb placed in a policeman's house kills a woman and injures a child. The police officer was not home at the time.

Also, police successfully defuse a sticky bomb attached to an army officer's car.


Bomb placed on the main highway near Aden square injures a civilian.

Other News of the Day

Parliament meets to organize committees. However . . .

Nuri al-Maliki will not be named PM designate until at least Thursday, to give him more time to negotiate ministerial posts.

AP's Rebecca Santana discusses the still uncertain state of progress toward a new government.

Al-Irqiya reports the arrest of Qaid Shehab al-Douri, a leader of the so-called Naqshabandiya Movement, and nine of its members. This organization uses the name and some of the religious rhetoric of a Sufi sect, but it is really a Baathist revanchist group. -- C

The Governor of Ninevah Province demands an investigation into the attack on Friday on three al-Iraqiya MPs. His account of the incident suggests complicity by elements of the Iraqi army.

An op-ed in the NYT, published under the name of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, justifies continued U.S. involvement in Iraq. (No offense to the VP, but obviously he doesn't get to write whatever he feels like. Note the unusual arithmetic. We will "save" $15 billion by the drawdown of troops. Actually we spent about $7.3 billion a month in Iraq in 2009, so according to my calculations we aren't saving $15 billion, we're squandering $73 billion. -- C) Excerpt:

Iraq’s security forces are not yet ready to operate fully on their own, and we must continue to support them. We must also help Iraq’s leaders with a range of challenges that lie ahead: conducting a census; further integrating Kurdish security forces into the Iraqi security forces; maintaining commitments to the Sons of Iraq, the Sunni groups that banded together against insurgents; resolving disputed internal boundaries and the future of the northern city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by both Arabs and Kurds; passing a hydrocarbon law that would distribute oil revenues and maximize the benefit to all Iraqis; stabilizing the economy through foreign investment, private sector development and new sources of revenue beyond oil; passing a fiscally responsible budget; and bringing to a close its post-Gulf war obligations to the United Nations. . . .

That is why, even at this difficult economic time, we are asking Congress to fulfill our budget requests to support America’s continued engagement, including our broader diplomatic presence, a modernization plan for the Iraqi security forces and financing for a police development program. The drawdown of American troops will save $15 billion in the coming fiscal year — we seek to direct less than one-third of that amount to provide needed assistance to Iraq’s security forces and to our State Department’s civilian-led efforts.

Afghanistan Update

Taliban attack a NATO supply convoy in Farah Province, set two vehicles ablaze. A Taliban commander is said to have been killed in the attack. TOLO also reports 6 Taliban and one Afghan soldier killed in an ongoing operation in Herat.

The Electoral Complaints Commission disqualifies 19 candidates who had been declared winners in the parliamentary elections. They also disqualify 2 candidates who had finished second behind disqualified candidates, pushing the election down to the 3rd-place vote-getter. As the AP story frankly puts it, however, "It was not immediately clear if the disqualifications would affect the power dynamic in the 249-seat lower house of the Afghan legislature. Most of the 2,500 candidates ran as independents, many of them with more of an eye toward accruing power in their local provinces than weighing in on President Hamid Karzai's policies."

Young Afghan vows to become a professional golfer despite shooting 467 for 4 rounds in the Asian games. His low round, the 4th, was a mere 40 over par. (He might want to stick to Buzkashi.)

Arnold Fields, the U.S. Inspector General for Afghan reconstruction, is coming under congressional criticism. Excerpt:

Chief among the senators' complaints is that Fields has failed to aggressively investigate allegations of fraud and waste involving the nearly $56 billion the U.S. has committed to improving schools, roads, electricity and medical facilities in Afghanistan. Instead, the senators say Fields has produced a series of mostly bland audits that haven't curbed the corruption undermining the U.S. mission and alienating Afghans from their own government.

Matthew McLauchlin, a former U.S. government official who supported legislation that created the oversight office in 2008, said the inspector general's office was intended to be an organization that fined people or put them in jail.

"They were to be focused on investigations and prosecutions," said McLauchlin, who served as the chief financial officer to the U.S. ambassador and commanding general in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2008. "But it's become an organization that does audits making recommendations on how things can be improved."

Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general appointed by former President George W. Bush, has argued that delays in getting more than $20 million to establish the organization set back plans to quickly hire experienced investigators and auditors.

Remember some vague concept that we were supposed to get out or start getting out or something or other by 2011? Fuggedaboudit.

Western leaders emerged from the NATO summit attempting to impress war-weary voters back home with an ambitious plan to bring the alliance's Afghan adventure to an end within four years. The nations of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan agreed to press Kabul to take charge of its own security by 2014, but some of the leaders who met in Lisbon had their own way of presenting the withdrawal timetable.

For the United States, which provides the vast bulk of the NATO-led force and warned that "some hard fighting remains ahead", President Barack Obama said for the first time that he hoped US troops would stop fighting in 2014. But, with observers warning that this appears an ambitious goal, he said some US combat troops might have to remain to stand by their Afghan comrades and prevent Taliban insurgents from exploiting any security vacuum.

Quote of The Day

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

Pete Seeger


Anonymous said...

caption on a photo:

An American soldier in Iraq died of his wounds on Sunday after being shot, the first US soldier since early September to die as a result of hostile action. (AFP/File/Ahmad al-Rubaye)

Tomorrow, a local 19 year old will be buried. He died in Afghanistan. His mother is 38 years old.

Anonymous said...

Iraq TV reporter gunned down in home: police

(AFP) – 15 hours ago

MOSUL, Iraq — Gunmen killed a young television news reporter in his home in the restive northern city of Mosul on Sunday, in the latest in a series of deadly attacks on journalists in Iraq, police said.

Mazin Mardan, in his mid-20s, was a correspondent for Al-Mosuliyah satellite television channel, covering hard news and carrying out interviews for the city's local station.

"Unknown gunmen raided the house of Mazin Mardan of Al-Mosuliyah satellite channel in the Al-Sadiq neighbourhood, east Mosul," police Major Mohammed al-Hayali said. "They killed him and they escaped."

The shooting occurred at around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) in the city, 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Baghdad, Hayali said.

In October, the International Press Institute press watchdog said more journalists had been killed in Iraq this year than in all of 2009.

The same month, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Iraq a lowly 145th place for media freedom out of 175 countries, and in September said the Iraq conflict has been the deadliest for the media since World War II.

And according to the "Impunity Index" released in April by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iraq has the worst record of any country for solving the murders of reporters.


Looks like the US only brought Iraqis the freedom of the grave, not freedom of the press.