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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Update for Friday, January 22, 2016

Big Muddy: SecDef Ashton Carter says U.S. will put "boots on the ground" in Iraq. Yes, we're tired of hearing that cliche and yes, of course there are already U.S. troops in Iraq. But what he means is that they will have a combat role -- which they do already but apparently this means it will expand.

Not sure what to make of this. PM Abadi isn't sure the three missing Americans were actually abducted.

U.S. will sell $2 billion worth of advanced weapons to Iraq. (Hopefully IS won't capture them.)

Masoud Barzani says he believes Kurdish independence is imminent.

U.S. will admit civilian casualties from air strikes against IS, specifically a total of 21. As The Independent notes, "It would be all but impossible to confirm or contradict the figures cited by the Pentagon. It is also unclear how they confirmed whether or not civilians were killed in their strikes."