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, March 18, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two Afghan police killed, one injured, by roadside bomb in Herat.

Spokesman for president Karzai implies that Afghanistan will negotiate for the long-term presence of U.S. military bases in the country, but only after the current strategic partnership agreement is completed. (Note the attempt to spin this as "we aren't talking about permanent bases, while yes, we are.)

Parliament passes a unanimous resolution asking president Karzai to revoke the agreement which makes foreign troops immune from legal proceedings in Afghanistan. Note that this point is historically non-negotiable for the United States. It's why Obama did not, as he wished, keep a residual force in Iraq. Were Afghanistan to revoke legal immunity for U.S. troops, the U.S. would withdraw. Ergo, it will not happen. -- C

Former platoon leader of Robert Bales praises him personally and professionally and finds the allegations against him astonishing. Meanwhile, reporters are digging into his life and trying to find clues in his financial and personal travails.

However, the investigative delegation sent by the Afghan parliament continues to say that the official U.S. account of the Panjwai massacre is false.

British soldiers in support of Afghan troops launch a "major offensive" near Gereshk, Helmand Province. Little resistance is reported so far.

NATO air strike kills two people said to be planting mines in Khost.

Afghan defense ministry announces death of five soldiers in the past 24 hours in various incidents,along with seizure of weapons and drugs.

Update: Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIRHC)find widespread torture within Afghanistan's security agencies, calls for urgent action to address it. Excerpt:

The report revealed "credible evidence of torture at nine NDS facilities and several Afghan National Police facilities, including beatings, suspension from the ceiling, electric shocks, threatened or actual sexual abuse, and other forms of mental and physical abuse, which were routinely used to obtain confessions or other information".

The AIRHC called for list of recommendations to be put into place, including for the Afghan government to remove officials who use torture from their posts, with all investigations and the findings to be made public. It asked for the AIRHC to have "full, unfettered, and confidential access to all NDS detainees and facilities".

And it said the government must "cease holding detainees incommunicado" - by notifying the detainee's family of the arrest as soon as possible, permitting family visitors, informing them of the reasons for their arrest within 24 hours, and ensuring access to legal counsel.

It called on the Nato-led mission to ensure foreign forces do not transfer detainees to facilities where there is real risk of torture.

Iraq Update

In a bizarre incident, Sadrist militia frees a captive, purportedly a former American soldier, who nobody seemed to know was missing.

Al Qaeda in Iraq claims responsibility for a Feb. 19 attack that killed 19 police and cadets. (Odd they are just getting around to it.)