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

Friday, December 16, 2011

News of the Day for Friday, December 16, 2011

Site News: Since Whisker can't post today, I thought I'd step in since this is an important day to mark. Soon, the name of this blog will change to Today in Afghanistan. We'll do some other revisions to the site to appropriately reflect the new focus. We will not abandon Iraq, however. I'll provide updates as events warrant. -- Cervantes

Iraq News

U.S. transfers control of its last remaining base to Iraqi forces. Formerly Camp Adder, the Imam Ali base is on the outskirts of Nasiriyah. At one time, it housed 15,000 U.S. soldiers. Now, only 4,000 remain in the entire country. At the end of the year, there will be 157, attached to the U.S. embassy. Note, however, that a substantial contingent will remain in Kuwait. -- C

Ted Rall isn't inclined to give Barack Obama much credit for bringing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq to an end. Excerpt:

Yet the "war on terror" mentality remains in full force.

Obama ordered the construction and expansion of a new concentration camp at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan to house thousands of new and current inmates in the U.S. torture system. Now The New York Times has discovered that the Obama Administration has developed "the other Guantánamo, an archipelago of federal prisons that stretches across the country, hidden away on back roads" inside the United States. Hundreds of Muslim men have been imprisoned by means of the thinnest veneer of legality. . . .

Dexter Filkins called it "the forever war": a post-9/11 syndrome that drives the United States to shoot and bomb the citizens of Muslim nations without end. You can't end a forever war. What if you had to sit down and get serious about taking care of the problems faced by regular, boring, American people? And so Obama is having his ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, release trial balloons about staying past 2014…forever, in so many words. . . .

The Iraq War, at least, seems to be coming to an end. According to the Pentagon, there will only be 150 U.S. troops in Iraq next year--those who guard the embassy in Baghdad. Sort of.

Just shy of 10,000 "contractors"--the heavily-armed mercenaries who became known for randomly shooting civilians from attack helicopters--will remain in Iraq as "support personnel" for the State Department.

Tarak Barkawi considers the outcome of the war, in relation to its real objectives. Excerpt:

At a moment of supreme - if relative - world power, the US invaded Iraq in March 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein from rising from the ashes of the sanctions regime of the 1990s. The US sought also to supplant a hostile Iraq with a friendly American client. Iraq would be a base from which to exercise US influence and a replacement for the pliant Gulf monarchies, whose stability in the face of al-Qaeda was then far from assured.

For political consumption, and for gullible idealists, these goals were packaged as the threat of WMD and the spread of democracy.

A mere three years later, the most powerful armed forces in human history were facing defeat at the hands of a many-sided ragtag insurgency. Each pinprick attack in Iraq bled popular support from the war in the US, and made the dream of a stable, democratic Iraq seem fantastical. Meanwhile, around the world, US legitimacy lay in tatter: stained with the WMD that never were, the chains of Abu Ghraib and the blood of Fallujah.

Most of all, the US' reputation as the unquestioned superpower was destroyed. The war in Iraq brought an end to the American century.

War's end is difficult for families of the fallen.

What if they ended a war and nobody cared?

The Iraq war's last U.S. casualty. The 4,483rd, and final, combat fatality named is 23-year-old Specialist David Hickman. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Taji on November 14.


amagi said...

There are rumors of a Maliki crackdown in Diyala. If you have any links, please post them.

whisker said...

thanks for the post

Cervantes said...

Well Amagi, of course they've been rounding up ex-Baathists for a while now. The only recent activity I could find reported was actually in Kut -- but we'll stay alert and if there's news that's reported, you'll find it here.

amagi said...

These are purportedly not ex-Baathists but pro-federalists. If true... well, I'll wait for confirmation.

dancewater said...

I don't think this was ever posted:

A second Iraqi province seeks autonomy from Baghdad

A split provincial council in Diyala has signed a request for the province to be granted regional status, a first step in seeking greater autonomy from the Baghdad government, council members said Tuesday.

The move comes two months after the provincial council in Salahuddin, former dictator Saddam Hussein's home province, declared semiautonomous status, and reflects disenchantment and sectarian rivalries as the U.S. departs Iraq. Sixteen of 29 Diyala provincial council members signed the request — all members of the Kurdish and opposition Iraqiya blocs, which are suspicious of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's Shiite Muslim-dominated government.

In a sign of the split, demonstrators in Diyala took to the streets on Tuesday to oppose the move, saying that it came during an unofficial session.

"That is why it is not legal in any way. A foreign agenda is behind this announcement," said Muthanna al Timimi, head of the council's security committee, who opposed the move.


maybe has something to do with a Maliki crackdown.

dancewater said...

I think there will be more US military casualties from the war on Iraq.... many are committing suicide after being a part of the occupation of Iraq.