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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

War News for Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unknown disease outbreak kills 2 people in Baghlan

#1: Pakistani intelligence and government officials say a suicide bomber targeted a prominent Pakistani militant commander in the country's northwest, wounding him and killing three people. The officials say the bomber attacked Maulvi Nazir on Thursday in Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area. Nazir was one of 14 people wounded in the bombing. Nazir is the most prominent militant commander in South Waziristan and is believed to have a nonaggression pact with the Pakistani military. Nazir has focused his fighting against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, not against the Pakistani state. The officials say Nazir was attacked at an office in Wana he uses to meet with locals and hear their complaints. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media

#2: A roadside bomb on Thursday struck a mini-bus in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, 370 km south of Kabul, leaving 10 people dead and eight others injured, a local official said. "The bloody incident took place in Deh Rawad district at around 10:30 a.m. local time today leaving 10 civilians dead and eight others injured,"Abdullah Humat, spokesman for provincial administration, told Xinhua.


Dancewater said...

At least 49 killed and 150 injured in bombings in Iraq

Dancewater said...

“It is not written in our hearts, it is carved in our hearts.” I awoke this morning still shaken with these words in my head.

Yesterday I was in Ramadi and Fallujah. Instead of bringing a message of caring, of empathy for their suffering and a desire for peace, my presence as someone from the U.S, seemed to open wounds that are unfathomably deep.

I sat in on a lecture, given in English, to maybe fifty or more young men and women at a college in Ramadi. They were all about 22 and 23 years of age, in their last year of a 5-year program. That means they were about 13 or 14 years old during the U.S. led invasion and beginning of the occupation. I was invited to speak by the president as an “honored guest” after the lecture. To my embarrassment the professor graciously hurried through his lecture on my account. I had everyone’s attention. It was awkward for me, and after introducing myself, I said I would be grateful to hear from them. There was only silence. I am sure my words sounded empty, trite and artificial.

Then a young man in the front row only a couple of feet from me said in a quiet voice “We have nothing to say. The last years have been only sad ones.” Again there was silence.

Sami, my host from Najaf and part of the Muslim Peacemaker Team, stood and shared. He told the story of how, after the U.S. bombing assaults on Fallujah, he and others came from the Shia cities of Najaf and Karbala, to carry out a symbolic act of cleaning up rubble and trash in the streets of Fallujah. This gesture, he said, melted hearts and healed some of the brokenness between Sunni and Shia. He
spoke of the delegation of peacemakers from the United States who were just in Najaf for twelve days, of the work to build bridges and seek reconciliation.

An impassioned young woman from the middle of the lecture hall spoke up. It was obviously not easy for her. “It is not,” she said, “about lack of water and electricity [something I had mentioned]. You have destroyed everything. You have destroyed our country. You have destroyed what is inside of us! You have destroyed our ancient civilization. You have taken our smiles from us. You have
taken our dreams!”

Someone asked, “Why did you this? What did we do to you that you would do this to us?”

“Iraqis cannot forget what Americans have done here,” said another. “They destroyed the childhood. You don’t destroy everything and then say ‘We’re sorry.’ “You don’t commit crimes and then say ‘Sorry.’”

“To bomb us and then send teams to do investigations on the effects of the bombs…No, it will not be forgotten. It is not written on our hearts, it is carved in our hearts.”

We are happy to make bridges between people, said the president of the college, but we will not forget. What can you do? In Fallujah 30% of the babies are born deformed.” What can you do?

He spoke of how he’d met an American soldier in the airport. He was part of the Special Forces in Iraq. The soldier told him “The bible tells us not to kill. But we were taught to kill, to kill for nothing. Just kill. I am so sorry.”

“Build bridges? the president repeated. Apologize? he said. What can you do?” There was no rancor in his tone or demeanor, only anger and deep pain.

A young man said….The U.S. is still here. There are fifteen thousand people at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. [and 5,000 security personal to protect them]. They have their collaborators. The war is not over.

We later visited a Sheik in Fallujah in his home. He and Sami embraced warmly and he welcomed us into the sitting area. In the course of our sharing we spoke of our visit to nearby Ramadi, of what was said there. “War always results in two losers,” he said sorrowfully.

Cathy Breen works with Voices for Creative Non-Violence and is a Catholic Worker at Mary House in New York City. She lived in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003 and during the occupation.

Dancewater said...

Senate Vote Endorses Expedited Transition in Afghanistan

By Matt Southworth on 11/29/2012 @ 04:30 PM

By a vote of 62-33, the Senate endorsed a non-binding amendment (#3096) to the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that seeks to expedite the transition of governance responsibility to the Afghan government by mid-2013, a full eighteen months before the current proposed full transition date of December 2014.

This amendment, while imperfect in many ways, signifies a very important step ensuring the President fulfills his promise to end the decade long U.S. war in Afghanistan. Perhaps more importantly, it puts on record the sense of the Senate—by way of around three-quarters of American public—that endless war in Afghanistan is unacceptable. The Pentagon will undoubtedly try to push the Obama administration to keep this war going, much as it did in 2009. Yet the Senate has now made clear that this would be unacceptable.

Another important aspect of this amendment is that it counters language in the House version of the FY13 NDAA, offered by House Armed Service Chairman Buck McKeon (CA), which seeks to maintain a “credible” presence in Afghanistan post 2014. An attempt to strike and replace this egregious language was not allowed by way of some shifty parliamentary procedural tricks employed by House leadership this past May. Having this language included in the Senate NDAA is now the only counterbalance to the ill-conceived McKeon language.

What does passage of this amendment mean going forward?

As is often the case, it depends. The House and Senate bills have to be conferenced before the President can sign them. Chairman McKeon will surely be on the Conference Committee, where he will work to keep his language. If he wins out, President Obama may sign the NDAA but issue a signing statement saying he will not honor the Afghanistan language. If Chairman McKeon is unable to keep his language, the president could sign an NDAA which holds him to his word on ending the war in Afghanistan.

It is also possible that—due to this and many other controversial aspects of the NDAA—President Obama may veto the bill as a whole. FCNL supports an administrative veto.

Ultimately, the importance of the adoption of this amendment comes down to one single factor: it changes the narrative around Afghanistan policy on the Hill. In truth, what the amendment says or does—it is non-binding, after all—is almost irrelevant. This effort—a culmination of years or work, countless hours and emails, and many a long nights—will, in the long run, be remembered as the time the Senate voted to expedite the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. That is how people will talk about this vote in coming months and that is the line the President can use to fend off those who would extend this war indefinitely.

For now, we will celebrate this small victory. But not for long, as there is still much work to be done.