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, September 30, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, October 30, 2012

Battle at a checkpoint between Afghan and ISAF troops results in death of one U.S. service member, a civilian contractor of unstated nationality, and an unstated number of Afghan troops. An investigation is underway.

Unclear whether this refers to the same incident. According to local authorities in Maidan Wardak province, Afghan and coalition security forces clashed with each other at Syedabad district on Saturday evening. A spokesman for the provincial government confirmed that the incident occurred Saturday evening at Sesi arae in Syedabad district. Another source says at least 3 Afghan soldiers were killed.

This is the 2,000th U.S. military death in Afghanistan. Sky News reviews the sad story:

The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 targeted al-Qaida and its Taliban allies following the September 11 attacks, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives in the United States. ictory in Afghanistan seemed to come quickly. Kabul fell within weeks, and the hard-line Taliban regime was toppled with few US casualties.

But the Bush administration's shift toward war with Iraq left the Western powers without enough resources on the ground, so by 2006 the Taliban had regrouped into a serious military threat. President Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan, where casualties have increased sharply in the last few years. But the American public has grown weary of having its military in a perpetual state of conflict, especially after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq at the end of last year.

Afghan Interior Ministry says 16 insurgents have been killed  in various operations in the past 24 hours. In addition to a few weapons, they say 5,560 kg of fertilizer were seized. I'm not sure what that's all about but it sounds from this and some other clues as though at least some of these raids were actually on opium growers, who may or may not be insurgents per se. -- C

And right on cue, the Russian drug "czar" -- okay that's my term for him he's actually Victor Ivanov, Chairman of the Administration for Supervision of Russian Narcotics -- alleges that 20,000 tons of narcotics have been stockpiled in northern Afghanistan for export to Russia and Europe. (That's a lot, BTW -- elsewhere in the article the figure is given as 2,000. Not sure what he really said.)

This is odd. Helmand provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Farhang told TOLOnews Saturday that coalition forces carried out an airstrike which killed at least one insurgent. However, ISAF Joint Command spokesman Lt. Col. Hagen Messer told TOLOnews that according to ISAF reports there have been no airstrikes in Helmand in the past week.