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, October 19, 2014

News of the Da4y for Sunday, October 19, 2014

One civilian killed, several shops destroyed in a suicide bombing in Jalalabad.

Suicide attack on convoy of Afghan National Army and police in Helmand results in casualties, with conflicting accounts of 2 or 4 deaths of police officers. Five soldiers are also injured.

National Directorate of Security says that Taliban leader Abul Bara Al-Kuwaiti is killed in an operation in Nangarhar. They claim Kuwaiti had "ties to the family" of Ayman al-Zawahiri, whatever that means. (Just as a reminder, Zawahiri, Osama bin-Laden's former second-in-command and current titular leader of the original al-Qaeda organization, is living in Pakistan under the protection of Pakistani security, putative allies of the U.S. No, I don't understand it either.)

Missiles fired from Pakistan injure 1 woman and destroy 5 houses in Kunar province.

Taliban besiege Gizab district, Uruzgan, blocking all routes into the capital. (Gizab is a largely rural area with a population of about 75,000.) "'Most of the schools in the district have been closed," [an anonymous source] said. "If a military operation is not launched in Gizab shortly, the Taliban will take full control of the district," he warned the government."

NDS says it foiled a suicide attack plot in Faryab.

Much attention of late to Anand Gopal's blistering indictment of the U.S. in Afghanistan, No Good Men Among the Living. Hereis the New York Times review by Kim Barker. Excerpt:

It is a devastating, well-honed prosecution detailing how our government bungled the initial salvo in the so-called war on terror, ignored attempts by top Taliban leaders to surrender, trusted the wrong people and backed a feckless and corrupt Afghan regime. . . 

Gopal shows how the Americans messed things up from the beginning. Civilian casualties and night raids bred resentment. The United States also backed the same warlords responsible for atrocities during the ’90s. In the war’s early years, there was no rehabilitation for a former Talib, no re-entry program, no probation, no real way to join the new government. For leaders of the Taliban, unlike other Afghans with a bloody past, there was no way out — except to run or hide.
The American military was also naïve about how things worked in the country. Afghan informants exacted revenge against rivals by calling in raids. Gopal describes how one tribal elder was so successful in uncovering official corruption that he was branded a Taliban spy, which was enough to get him banished to Guantánamo Bay.