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, March 23, 2014

News of the Day for Sunday, March 23, 2014

British Major Richard Streatfeild claims British snipers killed hundreds of innocent Afghans in a pointless "turkey shoot." He has also claimed that British troops died due to lack of equipment. Excerpt from the Daily Mail account:

Soldiers based in Helmand from 2006 to 2009 were permitted to open fire on anyone approaching their bases while carrying a weapon. But Major Streatfeild, who commanded a company of riflemen fighting the Taliban, said many of those shot and killed as a result posed no risk to British forces, in what amounted to ‘a turkey shoot masquerading as professional soldiering’.  While the actions of these British Forces were legal, and met the Rules of Engagement enforced by top brass, the former officer has revealed how the incidents turned locals against British troops and persuaded more Afghans to support the Taliban.
And while we're on the subject of sensational claims, in a new book Carlotta Gall says the 2008 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul was ordered by Pakistani ISI.

"American and Afghan surveillance intercepted phone calls from ISI officials in Pakistan and heard them planning the attack with the militants in Kabul in the days leading up to the bombing. At the time, intelligence officials monitoring the calls did not know what was being planned, but the involvement of a high-level official in promoting a terrorist attack was clear. The evidence was so damning that the Bush administration dispatched the deputy chief of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, to Islamabad to remonstrate with the Pakistanis. The bomber struck, however, before Kappes reached Pakistan," she said.

More weirdness. Surveillance video shows security guards searched the Serena hotel attackers twice. The attackers also passed through a metal detector. (I think that speaks for itself.)

Militants attack a police checkpoint in Badakshan province, five attackers are killed. Also, three civilians are killed in Kandahar by a roadside bomb.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, along with the usual daily drumbeat of bombings and shootings, a Kurdish soldier shoots a journalist dead in Baghdad, provoking among other responses an anti-Kurdish protest by other journalists. It's actually surprising that Iraq has yet to fully come apart at the seams.