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

Monday, January 25, 2016

Update for Monday, January 25, 2016

Just a couple of items I want to draw attention to today.

First, in Iraq, Gen. Dunford discusses the posture of U.S. troops in the planned assault on Mosul. It appears the U.S. is considering embedding troops with the operational brigades, which seems to be a euphemism for engaging in ground combat, whether proactively or defensively. We've heard vague noises about this before. The assault will not being for some months as Iraqi and Kurdish forces,with U.S. air support, work to isolate Mosul from the Islamic State in Syria.

The Czech Republic will donate rifles and ammuntion to the Peshmerga. However, their real need is for heavy weapons.

Charles Glass, in Harper's, has an in-depth look at the war from the perspective of the Peshmerga, and also visits the southern front's Shiite militias, Iraqi national army, and Sunni tribal units. The fragmentation and hostility within the opponents of IS is a real obstacle to defeating it.

Jason Lyle, in Vox, discusses the situation in Afghanistan. He sees the Taliban making major gains against the corrupt and ineffectual Afghan government, and does not believe they can be driven to really participate in peace talks without much more vigorous U.S. involvement in the fighting, and real cooperation from Pakistan. (The latter seems unlikely, the former would seem to depend on the U.S. political scene.)