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 18, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three Afghan National Police steal 29 million Afghanis (about $550,000) from the branch of the National Bank of Afghanistan in Nouristan province they were assigned to guard. Two of them have been captured, with most of the cash, the third is at large. They were captured in the home of the previous head of security for the province.

Taliban kill a man in Ghazni province accusing him of "espionage."

A seven year old boy is murdered in Herat in an extortion attempt. Kidnapping an extortion are apparently commonplace in the province.

Two Taliban operatives involved in IED construction and weapons trafficking reported captured in Kandahar.

In Singapore ahead of the Asia-Pacific summit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses Afghanistan. She says that economic development is essential to future stability and suggests (rather vague) plans to promote regional trade tying together central Asia and India.

Oy, department: The president of rescued and rebadged Kabul Bank – New Kabul Bank – was accused in court on Saturday of abetting an illegal money transfer on the night he was appointed president of the crisis-riddled lender.

Afghan officials say Pakistan has promised to stop cross-border shelling. We shall see.

Afghans protest the execution by Iran of 13 young Afghan men, claiming they had only gone to Iran seeking work and were innocent of any other wrongdoing. A spokesman for the families threatens the Afghan government with violent action if it does not confront Iran over the issue.

Karzai meets with Shiite clerics, urges them to be cautious on Ashura. (For those who don't know, that is the Shiite holy day commemorating the martyrdom of the prophet's grandson Hussein in 61 AH, 680 CE. This is the event that essentially marks the Shiite/Sunni schism, and has recently been the occasion for attacks on Shiite worshippers.)

Turkmenistan is pushing plans to build a gas pipeline across Afghanistan to India and Pakistan. "The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline, which is backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is regarded with suspicion as a wildly ambitious pipedream by some analysts."

Eric Margolis says the real scandal of Gen. Petraeus has nothing to do with sex. Excerpt:

Every war produces generals glorified into heroes by government, media and their own public relations efforts.  Gen. Petraeus, who commanded US occupation forces in first Iraq, then Afghanistan, continues to be hailed as a “military genius” and “war hero.”

Look again.  Petraeus and his fellow generals used every weapon in the US arsenal against Iraq’s eleven resistance groups (deceptively misnamed “al-Qaida” by Washington), including the mass ethnic cleansing of two million Sunni Iraqis,  death squads, torture, and brutal reprisals. . . .

Petraeus was then sent to work his magic in Afghanistan before returning to Washington to head CIA.  There, the brainy general, who had a knack for self-promotion and public relations,  tried again to crush the Pashtun resistance by massive bombardments, billions in high tech gear,  reprisals that wiped out entire villages,  search and destroy missions.  Torture and executions were as common as during the Soviet occupation. . . .

Cost of Afghan War:  $1 trillion and rising. Afghan dead unknown. US military, some 2,100 dead, 17,000 wounded. The US military has clearly been fought to a standstill in Afghanistan by medieval tribesmen with AK-47’s, reconfirming its name - “graveyard of empires. As for the military genius of Gen. Petraeus, recall the famous cry of King Pyrrhus, “one more such victory and we are lost.”