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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Update for Thursday, January 29, 2015

As a reminder, I am now generally posting only on days where there are significant developments. The daily drumbeat of bombings, assassinations, and skirmishes goes on, but we're no longer trying to fully document it. (Which we never were in the first place since we depend on what is reported in the English language media.)

But, significant developments today.

Three U.S. contractors, and one Afghan, are killed in a shooting at Kabul International Airport. Some sources are describing this as an insider attack, including Reuters which says the shooter was an Afghan soldier. Although the exact role of the "contractors" has not been publicly described, Reuters calls them "advisers," while Russian media are calling them "military contractors." Note that while U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan is advertised as 10,500, the presence of an undisclosed number of mercenaries obviously changes that picture.

And speaking of undisclosed: The U.S. military has now declared that basic information in the regular reports of the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction is henceforth classified. This includes the amount of U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent on salaries, training and equipment for the Afghan military, and even the size of the Afghan military and police, attrition rates, and the cost of U.S.-funded infrastructure projects. Gen. Campbell claims that making this information public could somehow benefit the enemy. Lawmakers of both parties are unhappy.

Speaking for myself:  In fact, of course, the only people they are keeping secrets from are the American people. After spending $6 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you would think the American people would have a right to know what they are getting for their money, and how it is still being spent. But given that both interventions have been catastrophic failures, convincing you to continue ponying up is challenging. If they stop telling us what is happening, will we forget about the whole thing? We shall see.