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, June 19, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reported Security Incidents

Abu Ghraib

Gunmen wearing military uniforms invade a vegetable market and kill a shop owner on Saturday. (With no further information, one can only speculate that the shop owner was targeted either because of his past, because his current occupation was a front for some other activity, or perhaps to send a message to a relative. This is a good example of the general murkiness of the ongoing violence in Iraq. We have no way of knowing whether the uniforms were fake, either.)


Sticky bomb kills a taxi driver and injures 3 of his passengers, who are university students. This follows a spate of recent violence in the city including a deadly bomb attack yesterday.


An Iraqi army officer is assassinated by gunmen using silenced weapons on Palestine St.


Bomb attack on the home of the Chair of the Thi Quar provincial energy committee causes property damage but no casualties. The target, Hussein Hassab al-Awad, is a Sadrist politician.

Other News of the Day

Spc. Marcos A. Cintron, 32, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, a native of Orlando, Fla., died Thursday in a hospital in Boston following a rocket attack on June 6 on a base in Baghdad. He is the sixth soldier to have died as a result of the incident.

The Iranian opposition group Mujahideen-e-Khalq holds a rally in France to demand protection for its forces stranded in Iraq. Prominent U.S. Republican politicians are in attendance, including Rudy "911" Giuliani. (This is an instructively ironic story. For those who don't know, the MEK has long been officially labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. Saddam Hussein gave them sanctuary because he was hostile to Iran; but the new Iraqi government, which is friendly to Iran, is trying to expel them, but has been unable to do so because they now enjoy a measure of U.S. protection. In April, the Iraqi army raided the MEK camp and it is alleged that 35 people were killed.)

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi claims the amount of Iraqi cash the U.S. cannot account for is $18.7 billion, three times the amount previously reported. Most readers will recall that in 2004, as Iraq's descent into chaos was escalating, the Bush Administration flew in 20 billion dollars in cash, derived from Iraqi assets in the U.S., with the intention that commanders use it to buy peace and loyalty. A recent audit concluded that almost $7 billion of the money cannot be accounted for, but Nujaifi is now claiming that almost all of it is missing. Leading Iraqi politicians are now starting to demand that the U.S. reimburse Iraq for the funds.)

Jacques Clement of AFP reports on the deteriorating state of the ruins of Ur.

Afghanistan Update

ISAF says 8 troops died Saturday, 4 in a motor vehicle accident, but gives no further details.

Three men dressed in Afghan army uniforms attack a police station near the presidential palace in Kabul. One detonates a suicide vest, the others continue the attack using automatic weapons. By the time security forces kill the remaining two attackers 2 hours later, they have killed three police officers, one intelligence agent and five civilians. TOLO news says 12 people were also injured in the incident.

Meanwhile Pakistan says it launched an offensive the the Mohmand tribal area near the Afghan border, resulting in the deaths of 25 militants and 4 Pakistani soldiers. At the same time, Pakistan summoned the Afghan Charge d’Affaires Majnoon Gulab to complain about an incursion by militants into Pakistan on June 16. Afghan officials deny the incident took place.

Suicide bomb attack on a German convoy in Kunduz kills 3 civilians, injures 11.

"The International Monetary Fund has rejected Afghanistan’s plan to deal with a failed bank at the center of a corruption crisis, a step that has blocked tens of millions of dollars in aid and may put development projects worth billions more at risk." The Afghan government did not adequately address the funds concerns over Kabulbank, resulting in the withholding of $70 million to the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund. The corruption at the bank involves close associates and relatives of Hamid Karzai, and is one of several sources of strain between the U.S. and the Kabul government.

Quote of the Day

Now, with the perpetrator of Sept. 11 dead and buried at sea, most of us think it's time to bring our troops home and use them and our money to rebuild our country, rather than continue our silly and unsuccessful nation-building efforts in places such as Afghanistan. Obama doesn't seem to get it, but military leaders always want more troops and more money. That's what keeps them in business.

But to keep the U.S. in business, presidents should listen to the people who impartially understand the difference between war and peace, between austerity and prosperity.

Al Neuharth