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, August 16, 2018

Update for Thursday, August 16, 2018

IS claims responsibility for bombing of a Hazara educational center in Kabul that killed 34 students and wounded 57 who were preparing for university entrance exams. The Hazara minority are Shiites. IS frequently attacks Shiite targets in Afghanistan.

Photos of funerals for the victims are here.

Militants attack a facility of the intelligence service in Kabul. Security forces say the incident has ended with two attackers dead.

The Ghazni siege has ended with a reported $50 million in property damage in addition to the hundreds of dead. Numerous markets and shops burned with their contents. Other estimates put the damage much higher. Sporadic fighting continues on the outskirts of the city.

A family from Ghazni says 16 of its members were killed by government air strikes.

Four police are killed by an explosion in Kandahar.

U.S. air strikes in Helmand are said to kill a total of 27 militants.

For the history buffs, Tom Emgelhardt reviews his 17 years of writing on the Afghanistan war. I'll give you one pull quote:

Here’s what I wrote about Afghanistan in 2009, while considering the metrics of “a war gone to hell”: “While Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.”