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, May 1, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Kirkuk

Colonel Nouzad Talabani, a senior officer in the intelligence service of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is assassinated. This is interesting in a couple of ways. First, despite the creation of a Kurdistan regional government in 1992, and the demotion of the PUK and the KDP from rival regional governments to political parties, it turns out the PUK retains it's own security force and bestows military ranks. Second, it's interesting that somebody would want to kill this guy. Hmmm. AFP has additional details.

Mosul

Suicide attack on an Iraqi army patrol kills 7 people, 4 soldiers and 3 civilians, and injures 15.

Baquba

Sticky bomb attached to a teacher's car kills him. Xinhua also reports a 6 year old child is injured by a roadside bomb just north of the city.

Armed men storm the home of a Sunni cleric and kill him, his wife and child.

Gunmen wearing police uniforms invade the home of four brothers who were Sahwa members and kill them all.

Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad

Roadside bomb injures 2 people.

Baghdad

Bomb planted in a commercial area injures 3 people. Separately, a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad injures 4.

Other News of the Day

Happy Mission Accomplished! Day. (See the Quotes of the Day.)

Iraqi Parliament approves $400 million payment to Americans who claim they were mistreated during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. According to Xinhua, "The controversial agreement which was signed between the two countries on Sept. 2, 2010, stated to pay 400 million dollars compensation for hundreds of American citizens who claimed they were mistreated when they were held hostages in 1990 during the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War. The agreement is highly sensitive for many Iraqis who see themselves as victims to Saddam Hussein as well as the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, which they see (invasion) as illegal since it was not clearly authorized by the UN Security Council." You'd think there would be some coverage of this in U.S. media but I could only find a Chinese source.

Afghanistan update

A 12 year old suicide bomber detonates an explosive vest in a marketplace in Paktika Province, killing 4 people and injuring 12. Sheesh.

AFP also reports incidents in Ghazni. Taliban ambush a police vehicle, and 2 police and 2 civilians are killed in the exchange of gunfire. Also, 13 civilians are injured by a bomb parked in front of Ghazni police headquarters. Five are said to be in critical condition.

Taliban announce the start of a spring offensive.

Police chief of Badghdis province says Afghan and NATO forces have killed 17 militants.

NYT's Rubin and Risen report on the construction of the Gardez-Khost Highway, which has yet to be completed but has already cost U.S. taxpayers $121 million, and is expected to cost more than $50 million more, much of it paid as protection money to people who are probably using it to finance insurgency.

The vast expenses and unsavory alliances surrounding the highway have become a parable of the corruption and mismanagement that turns so many well-intended development efforts in Afghanistan into sinkholes for the money of American taxpayers, even nine years into the war. The road is one of the most expensive construction projects per mile undertaken by U.S.A.I.D., which has built or rehabilitated hundreds of miles of Afghan highways and has faced delays and cost overruns on similar projects, according to the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction. . . . The possibility that American taxpayers’ money has been going to someone with ties to an insurgency that has killed American soldiers and Afghan civilians is just one of the many problems of the Gardez-Khost Highway.

Quotes of the Day

He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple.

Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity. He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove's ''revvin' up your engine'' myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer's movies look like Lizzie McGuire. This time Maverick didn't just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.

Chris Matthews, and Maureen Dowd, May 1, 2003

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