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, December 29, 2016

Update for Thursday, December 29, 2016

After a two week lull, Iraqi forces resume the assault on Mosul. Earlier projections that the battle might be over by mid-January have been abandoned. PM Abadi now says three months will be required, but U.S. Lieutenant Gen. Stephen Townsend predicts it will take two years to retake Mosul and Raqqa and "burn out" the remnants of IS. [Of course he doesn't know about Donald Trump's secret plan. -- C]

CBS news has some additional details on the operation, in a story written just before the announcement of a new offensive.

Civilians displaced in the Mosul fighting suffer in rain and cold. The current number of displaced people is estimated at 120,000.

No U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East as the Dwight D. Eisenhower departs and overhaul of the George H.W. Bush (yes) is taking longer than expected.

They claimed to have completed this more than a month ago, but Shiite militias are now said to be "close" to cutting the IS route between Mosul and Raqqa near Tal Afar.