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, November 11, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, November 12, 2012

Roadside bomb in Khost kills a family of 6 who were just returning home from a maternity hospital with their newborn baby.

Explosion in Kandahar province kills a woman and child, injures 3 others, who were on their way to a wedding.

Two Afghan soldiers attack NATO troops in Badghis province, injuring one. The attackers are detained. Khaama has a somewhat different account of what appears to be the same incident. In this version, a single assailant attacks a Spanish Provincial Reconstruction Team, and the attacker is killed.

Afghan witnesses testify by video-link at a hearing to determine whether Staff Sgt. Robert Bales should face court martial for the murder of 16 civilians, including 9 children:

Rafiullah, a boy of 15 who spoke in Pashtun, said he was at home with his grandmother, Na'ikmarga, and his sister, Zardana, when a US soldier came. "He had rifle and a pistol," Rafiullah said of Bales. "He put a pistol in my sister's mouth and then my grandmother started to wrestle with him. At that time I ran out of the door ... My sister and I were running. As soon as he left the room, my grandmother ran too."

When asked what happened next, Rafiullah answered: "He shot my grandmother and then my sister, and then me. He shot me on my legs. Zardana was shot on her head."

U.S. soldier killed by roadside bomb on Saturday. No additional information as of now. (This story also reports civilian casualties described in links above.)

Veterans Day in the US coincides with "Remembrance Sunday" in the UK. I am seeing more stories about this occasion from the UK than I am from this side of the Atlantic. Unlike in the US, in Britain it is acceptable to raise questions on the day, rather than blindly supporting military adventurism. From Rachael Gribble:

Remembrance Sunday is an annual opportunity for the British public to pay their respects to those who have died during service to their country. By taking part in wreath laying ceremonies, observing two minutes silence at 11 am, or wearing a poppy, the public can express their appreciation for the role of the Armed Forces in ways that they might not wish or feel able to do at other times. This show of respect extends to those who have served, as donations to the Royal British Legion help provide support for ex-Service personnel through out the UK.
 As in previous years, this Sunday is likely to trigger discussions about the UK's continued military presence in Afghanistan, shaped by public doubts about the mission and the rising death toll amongst UK troops (particularly those resulting from caused by so-called 'green on blue' attacks). Also important are the mounting financial costs, which have reportedly led the Chancellor, George Osborne, to press senior military officers on why withdrawal from Afghanistan cannot happen earlier than scheduled, if not immediately.
 Australia also observes the day.