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, October 16, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


A civilian is killed by unknown gunmen in front of his house on Saturday. No other information now available.


As thousands demonstrate to protest removal of the Kurdish flag from government buildings, a protestor sets himself on fire. The man is reported to have survived.

Other News of the Day

The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. has abandoned plans to keep 5,000 troops in Iraq in 2012, and will retain only 160 embassy guards.

However, Administration spokespeople deny this report, saying that negotiations with the Iraqi government over this issue continue.

Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki implies that U.S. troops might remain as trainers, but will not receive immunity from Iraqi law. This has been the sticking point all along. The U.S. has said it will not leave troops in Iraq without immunity, and will find another way to provide training should Iraq fail to grant it. -- C

This AFP story has more details on the demonstration in Khaniqin. This territorial dispute between Arabs and Kurds threatens the integrity of Iraq and is one of the major concerns which has made the U.S. reluctant to fully withdraw. -- C

Juan Cole (who, contrary to some accusations, was absolutely opposed to the U.S. intervention in Iraq from the beginning) discusses the history of the Status of Forces Agreement and the political developments which have lead to the coming withdrawal. He concludes:

And so that is the way the war ends. No great demonstrations in the US against it in its twilight. It is ending almost by default, because the Iraqi parliament can seldom get real legislation done, the US is forced to adhere to the 2008 SOFA. In the background, the bombs are still going off and the country is riven by ethnic disputes. The US will receive no benefit from its illegal war of aggression, no permanent bases, no bulwark against Iran, no new Arab friend to Israel, no $14 a barrel petroleum– all thing things Washington had dreamed of. Dreams that turned out to be flimsy and unsubstantial and tragic.

Afghanistan Update

A British soldier is shot dead on Saturday while guarding a checkpoint in Helmand Province. ISAF announces that two soldiers were killed on Saturday, apparently including the fatality announced by Britain, but giving no further information. Apparently the British soldier was actually a Ghurka from Nepal.

The Governor of Paktia Province survives an assassination attempt as he arrives at this office, but a police officer and municipal employee are killed, and four civilians wounded. Three of the attackers are dead, and one is believed to have escaped. The AFP account is slightly different, in that it does not specify the Governor as the target of the attack. It also says the municipal employee was killed by a car bomb left behind by the attackers, and does not mention the dead police officer.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security is investigating itself over accusations that its agents beat a prisoner nearly to death in Khost in September. This follows a UN report that Afghan security forces routinely torture prisoners. Apologies for annoying pop-up ad for sausage, in Spanish. -- C

German President Christian Wulff makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan, apparently in preparation for a conference on Afghanistan to be held in Bonn in December. In case you're wondering why you've never heard of Wulff, the German presidency is a largely ceremonial office.


Anonymous said...

"I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides"

dancewater said...

I see someone has posted Juan Cole's comments on the eve of the invasion.

Does not sound like an anti-war position to me.....

And let's be clear about Cole and Libya - he supported that completely.

and, of course, Iraq did not make "sacrifices" -- they just got destroyed.

Cervantes said...

The quote from Cole was widely bandied about starting in about 2008, when he came out against immediate withdrawal. It is taken out of context -- he was clearly opposed to the invasion of Iraq, what he was saying at that point is that since it was inevitable, he was hoping for the best. There is absolutely no doubt that he was against the war.

As a debating tactic, this is really sleazy. The attempt is to claim that his current position is not to be taken seriously because he believed something you don't agree with in the past. Whatever he says today should be judged on its merits.

We have not said much about Libya here because it's not our mission, but clearly it's a very different situation from Iraq. It's not intellectually inconsistent to be against the attack on Iraq but support the action in Libya. You can disagree, obviously, but please do so on the merits, not on how you feel about some individual commentator.

dancewater said...

no, you got it wrong - I was reading Cole back in 2002 and early 2003, while he expressed some concerns about how the US was going to run the war/invasion/occupation, he thought sending the US military in to remove Saddam was a good idea overall.

Some of his prior posts were altered by Cole himself at various times.

He was not anti-war for Iraq or any other country, he just thought that the Bush administration was inept in how they administered the war/occupation.

I wish he was anti-war... he wasn't and probably never will be. He comes from a military family, and thinks the US military is grand.

I think the US military leaders are totally inept sociopaths.