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, January 20, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, January 20, 2013

An attempt to assassinate the governor of Herat fails when the attackers' explosives detonate prematurely.

Afghan army says it is undertaking an offensive  in the Alinegar district of Laghman province.

Elsewhere, Ministry of the Interior says 10 Taliban killed  in various joint operations around the country.

Pakistan announces it will release all Afghan Taliban prisoners it now holds, including Mullah Baradar. This is evidently in furtherance of the peace initiative as the Taliban prepare to open a diplomatic office in Qatar. Afghanistan and the U.S. do not appear to object to this move. However, some Afghan MPs do object. (Note: The Pakistanis presumably know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar and are already protecting him. It would be surprising if this were not so. -- C)

An Afghan official criticizes Russia for not doing enough  to fight demand for Afghan narcotics. The Russians have recently complained about increased drug production during the NATO occupation but the Afghans point the finger at Russia as a major consumer. (Reminiscent of Mexico and the U.S., no?)

This is a slightly weird story, but it appears the U.S. spent millions through a maintenance contract to service vehicles in Afghanistan which had already been destroyed.

Afghan government officials don't bother to register their cars or pay motor vehicle taxes.

Afghan spy agency apologizes for beating up journalists  following the recent attack on its headquarters.

Note: An Iranian source, which is probably unreliable, reports that a U.S. drone attack has killed 5 civilians in Kunar province. I'm not going to link to it because I'm skeptical, but if this is ultimately confirmed I'll consider linking to them in the future. -- C