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, April 28, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, April 28, 2013

NATO fixed wing craft crashes in southern Afghanistan, killing 4. ISAF confirms the incident but has released almost no information. The nationality of the dead, and even whether they were military, has not been publicly revealed as of this writing. Xinhua reports the crash occurred in Jamal Khil area of Shah Joe district in southern Zabul province at around 3 p.m. local time Saturday. Most foreign forces in that area are U.S. Khaama says the craft was a helicopter. Whatever.

Roadside bomb kills deputy security chief for Ghazni Mohammad Hussain Adil and two of his bodyguards. He was responding to reports that the district had fallen under Taliban control.

Taliban announce start of a spring offensive, warns civilians to stay away from foreign military assets and other potential targets. The above attack is said to mark the beginning.

Departing French ambassador to Afghanistan offers a grim assessment. In remarks at a farewell party, Bernard Bajolet, says that barring huge changes, the western investment in the Afghan government will be squandered. NYT's Alissa J. Rubin explicitly contrasts his remarks to more upbeat assessments from U.S. officials. Excerpt:

Mr. Bajolet wound up his realpolitik with a brisk analysis of what Afghanistan’s government needed to do: cut corruption, which discourages investment, deal with drugs and become fiscally self-reliant. It must increase its revenues instead of letting politicians divert them, he said. Several diplomats in the room could be seen nodding as he said that drugs caused “more casualties than terrorism” in Russia, Europe and the Balkans and that Western governments would be hard-put to make the case for continued spending on Afghanistan if it remains the world’s largest heroin supplier. . .  “We should be lucid: a country that depends almost entirely on the international community for the salaries of its soldiers and policemen, for most of its investments and partly on it for its current civil expenditure, cannot be really independent.”

Taliban release ten deminers they had held for one week in southern Kandahar. The prisoners had been "badly beaten" but there is no word of ransom.

A hailstorm damages about 50 NATO helicopters on April 23 at Kandahar airfield. (That must have been mighty impressive. -- C)

Iraq Update: As sectarian tensions and unrest in predominantly Sunni regions rise, the Iraqi government has suspended the licenses of 10 TV channels, including al Jazeera, and Sharqiya. President Maliki ascribes the growing conflict to spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria. The crisis has been exacerbated by the death of 5 soldiers near Ramadi.