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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

News of the Day for Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Oh yeah, that'll work: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction  politely asks anybody who has information about US funds being stolen, wasted or abused to help recover the money.

Meanwhile, the war goes on. Pro-government militia commander Faizullah is killed by an IED in Ghazni, along with 3 of his men.

The Defense Ministry says 8 Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in the past 24 hours, without providing specifics. However, one incident has been reported, a suicide car bomb attack on a base in Maidan Wardak, which killed 2.

The Interior Ministry claims 36 insurgents killed, but as usual I don't link to it because they don't mention police casualties, which we only find out about in the aggregate, based on monthly or quarterly summaries. However, it appears that the police do more than fight Taliban. Elders from Nijrab, Kapisa, come to Kabul to protest police brutality, claiming among other grievances that 6 police gang-raped a 12 year old girl.

A report emerges that madrasa students killed an Afghan soldier on Sunday as he was praying at a mosque in Baghdis. Apparently the school promotes extremism, and is among many unregistered private religious schools.

No surprise, the Taliban are claiming that the end of the NATO combat mission represents victory for their cause.

"We have not been defeated. We have not signed any agreement with the United States to conclude the war, then where is the sense that America put an end to the war? This means that the US and its allies have been completely defeated and are fleeing from the battlefield," Taliban spokesman Zabiul Mujahid said. . . .

In a statement on Monday, the Taliban said that the withdrawal of ISAF showed that perhaps the countries that invaded the country finally realised that the mission in Afghanistan was "the most idiotic decision of modern history".

Canadian former diplomat and current think-tanker Daryl Copeland sums up:

As coalition members rush for the exits, there have been many attempts to explain what went wrong, which by my reckoning includes just about everything. That said, few in positions of authority are admitting failure. Clearly, among responsible senior officials, more than a few of whom managed to eke a promotion or two out of the war, there is no appetite for a searching retrospective.
While awaiting the attribution of some form of culpability for the wilful blindness which plagued the ISAF mission, it may be useful to look ahead with a view to identifying some of the main winners and losers.

Copeland's losers are the United States, NATO, and the Afghan people. His winners are China, Russia, and drug traffickers.