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 6, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, May 6, 2012

Update: Three NATO troops killed by bomb in eastern Afghanistan. No further information at this time.

Taliban attack an Afghan army checkpoint in Farah Province, four insurgents are killed in return fire.

Three boys are injured in a small arms attack on a school in Ghazni province. More than 100 schools in the province have closed after receiving threats. President Karzai denounced the attacks on schools on Saturday.

The in-laws of Sahar Gul, a 15 year old girl who they tortured for refusing to work as a prostitute, are sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women's rights groups assail the sentence as too lenient.

No big surprise, Iranian Foreign Minister Ramin Mehmanparast is unhappy about the strategic agreement that will keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2024. Rather mysterious, is it not, that this is portrayed in the U.S. as a timeline for withdrawal? -- C

Afghanistan's members of parliament Saturday criticised a provision within the US-Afghan long-term agreement which does not allow Afghanistan to change its system of government. Seriously -- the pact apparently forbids Afghanistan from amending its constitution for a decade.

Separate roadside bomb explosions in Zabul kill 2 civilians, injure 2 others.

Thirteen Afghan government employees are arrested on corruption charges by the Attorney General's office. It remains to be seen, however, whether any of them will be successfully prosecuted:

A spokesman for the Afghan finance ministry Wahid Tawhidi said the detained individuals are charged with fraudulent acts and their cases had been forwarded to Attorney General a year back. Officials at the Afghan Attorney General said the legal cases of the detained individuals will be forwarded to judiciary institutions within the next 2 weeks. In the meantime Afghan finance ministry officials said the detained individuals can resume to their duties if the charges against them were not proven.

Chief of Policy in the president's office, Sebghatullah Sanjar, is killed in an apparent traffic accident after colliding with a military vehicle. The incident is under investigation. 

Broken record department: Pakistan has condemned in the strongest terms the U.S. drone attacks in North Waziristan Saturday morning, which killed at least 10 people, the Foreign Ministry said. 

Eugene Robinson is also confused by the U.S. policy in Afghanistan:

The Taliban government was deposed and routed. Al-Qaeda was first dislodged and then decimated, with “over 20 of their top 30 leaders” killed, according to the president. Osama bin Laden was tracked to his lair in Pakistan, shot dead and buried at sea. To the extent that al-Qaeda still poses a threat, it comes from affiliate organizations in places such as Yemen and from the spread of poisonous jihadist ideology. Al-­Qaeda’s once-­extensive training camps in Afghanistan have long been obliterated and the group’s presence in the country is minimal.

That smells like victory to me. Yet 94 American troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far in 2012, U.S. forces still will be engaged in combat until the end of 2014, and we are committed to an extraordinary — and expensive — level of involvement there until 2024. Why?