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 15, 2015

Update for Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dept. of "Who could have predicted?" Plans for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan are (apparently) scrapped.

(Reuters) - The United States has abandoned plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, the Associated Press reported on Saturday, but a senior U.S. official told Reuters no decision has been made. Many of the 9,800 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan would probably remain well into next year, although no final decision on numbers had been made yet, AP reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

The headline on this story could be a bit misleading, at least some people have misinterpreted it: Afghanistan gave CIA money to al Qaeda for diplomat's ransom. But, the story is interesting enough. It seems that the CIA regularly delivered cash to Hamid Karzai, to buy the support of warlords and politicians, that sort of thing. You know, democracy! Karzai used $1 million of it as part of a $5 million ransom. We know about this because of the trial of a Pakistani currently on trial in New York for plotting to bomb a shopping center in England. (You can't make this stuff up.) The evidence comes from the loot the Navy SEALS got from Osama bin Laden's hideout. It seems bin Laden was afraid the CIA money might be poisoned or something.