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, December 29, 2013

News of the Day for Sunday, December 29, 2013

Car in a wedding party hits a mine in Kandahar province, 2 killed, 8 injured. Provincial government blames Taliban, but no claim of responsibility.

One border police officer killed and 3 injured by IED in Herat province. No claim of responsibility.

 Apparently the Interior Ministry report was not made on a copier today, only 7 militants killed in past 24 hours, which is one quarter of the standard number. Once again, no government or civilian casualties, of course. I'm sure they'll get it back up to 28 tomorrow.

Taliban kill a man in Nimruz province alleging out of wedlock sex. At least they shot him, rather than stoning him to death.

Members of Parliament say that security is deteriorating. "Based on information from our own provinces, the security is bad," MP Sayed Nader Shah Bahr said. "Right now, the government controls only the district centers, but the rest of the districts are governed by insurgents."

WaPo reports National Intelligence Estimate says U.S. "gains" in Afghanistan will be quickly lost, even if a residual military force remains in the country and the U.S. continues to bankroll the government, although they interview some officials who dispute this. Excerpt:

U.S. intelligence analysts did not provide a detailed mapping of areas they believe are likely to become controlled by specific groups or warlords in coming years, said one of the officials. But the analysts anticipate that the central government in Kabul is all but certain to become increasingly irrelevant as it loses “purchase” over parts of the country, the official said.

Airman David Lyon identified as U.S. service member killed Dec. 27. Lyon was a graduate of the Air Force Academy who was a star shot putter. His widow, Dana Pounds-Lyon, is also an Academy graduate and a champion javeline thrower.

And Iraq continues to descend into chaos. Round up from yesterday paints the picture. Among numerous other incidents, perhaps the most significant: "Security forces arrived at the Ramadi home of M.P. Ahmed al-Awlani to arrest him and his brother on terrorism charges that likely stem from the lawmaker’s criticism of the Shi’ite-led government. Awlani was detained, but not before a clash between his guards and security forces erupted at the compound. Awlani’s brother, a soldier and five guards were killed, and another 17 people were wounded. A sister was reported to have been among the dead, and Awlani was treated for injuries. The arrest could signal renewed suppression of Sunni politicians by Shi’ite P.M. Nouri al-Maliki."