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, May 24, 2018

Update for Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tell me something I don't already know department. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction declares the effort a failure. The $5 billion expenditure by the U.S. has largely been squandered.

The report says the effort proved ineffective in stabilization because the military focused on the most dangerous districts first, where poor security made it hard to move on to the building phase. U.S. civilian agencies were compelled to conduct their stabilization programs in dangerous areas not ready for rebuilding, and once coalition troops and civilians left those districts the stabilization ended.
The report also says that U.S. funds created opportunities for corruption, and the Obama administration's deadline for troop withdrawals also created problems with a race against the clock. I would say, however, that it is not clear that anything could have worked.

I'll skip the roundup of daily violence, which continues at a steady rate.

In IraqMuqtada al-Sadr met with political leaders in Baghdad and says he has agreement to form an inclusive government. Whether he will truly transcend his past and provide the leadership to build a unified nation and an accountable, effective government obviously remains to be seen. But he's still saying all the right words. I remember writing here back at the height of the civil war that I didn't see anyone standing up for Iraq. Our friend River left the country in despair. (I wonder where she is now and what she is doing), as did many other progressive Iraqi nationalists. Is there truly hope now?

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