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, June 23, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, June 23, 2013

One Australian special forces soldier killed, 2 injured, in a gunfight in southern Afghanistan, apparently in Uruzgan. No further information as of now.

Seven Afghan National Police are killed in a roadside bombing in Uruzgan.

Interior Ministry claims 38 Taliban killed in various operations around the country. (As usual, the apparent absence of any casualties on the government side, and lack of any corroboration, make these claims dubious, at least as far as I'm concerned. -- C)

Afghan soldiers are training to be bomb disposal experts, but hundreds more must be trained in a hurry before ISAF forces depart.
Twenty one kilograms of opium and more than a kilogram of heroin are seized  from a boat that entered Uzbekistan from Afghanistan via the Amu Darya. Much of Aghanistan's heroin production ultimately reaches Russia through central Asia.

It is still doubtful whether peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar will ever begin, as the dispute over the name of the Taliban office there continues to be an obstacle. (It's amazing how powerful these symbolic issues are. The Taliban have designated the office an embassy of their shadow government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Karzai government and the U.S., of course, do not recognize the existence of any such entity. Qatar says they only had permission to call the facility the "Afghan Taliban Political Office in Doha." Those old enough to remember Vietnam will recall that peace talks were delayed for months over the issue of the shape of the table.) Further discussion of the issue and the prospects for peace talks is here.

Two would-be bombers are killed as they attempt to plant a roadside bomb in Kandahar province.