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, August 21, 2017

Update for Monday, August 21, 2017

Thousands of civilians flee as advance beings on Tal Afar. The UN reports that they are fleeing across the desert for hours and there is a severe lack of water, food and shelter in the blistering heat.

Troops are advancing on the city from the west, so far apparently rapidly.

Zaid al-Ali discusses the surprising evolution of Muqtada al-Sadr, who now presents himself -- and acts as -- an Iraqi nationalist who espouses independence from Tehran and reconciliation with the Sunni Arab monarchies. He has also publicly condemned corruption and called for Iraqi unity. Ali writes "It is impossible to tell whether Muqtada Sadr's about-turn in favour of moderation and political negotiation rather than confrontation and violence is the result of a genuine change of heart, or whether he is merely trying to survive in a challenging environment. Regardless, he has been consistent in his approach over the past few years and it would be safe to assume that he is unlikely to waver in the near future. "

We'll learn tonight what the new "strategy" will be in Afghanistan. While all indications are that it will include about a 50% increase in troop levels and an open-ended commitment, the speech will be delivered by a man who in the past has repeatedly called for withdrawal. Although he moderated that stance on the campaign trail, he did run as a non-interventionist. I hope you didn't believe him.





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