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, September 10, 2018

Update for Monday, September 10, 2018

Violence and chaos erupt around Afghanistan.

Taliban overrun a district in Jawzjan, at least 30 government forces killed or injured.

Fighting in Sar-e-Paul over two days has left at least 17 security forces dead. The toll is said to be provisional and may be much higher. Additional fighting is said to be underway on the highway to Jawzjan, and in fighting was under way on the main highway into neighboring Jawzjan province, and Taliban forces appeared to be gathering in Sheram to the east of the city.

Taliban capture four security posts in Faryab, with 17 government casualties reported.

Suicide bomber in Kabul attacks crowd commemorating the death of Ahmad Shah Masud, a Tajik leader who was assassinated in 2001 shortly before the U.S. invasion. His supporters were firing randomly into the air while driving through the streets. Police arrested some 100 demonstrators. Seven were killed in the suicide bombing.

Fighting in Samangan leaves 13 police and 4 Taliban dead.

Mortar kills 6 civilians in Helmand.

The U.S. threatens to arrest any judges of the International Criminal Court who charge U.S. soldiers for actions in Afghanistan. Really.

Pakistani commentator Imtiaz Gul considers the carnage in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is in Kabul.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Update for Saturday, September 8, 2018

The corporate media in the U.S. are now largely ignoring Iraq. It seems that having squandered a couple of trillion dollars, four thousand dead troops and who knows how many more wounded, and managing to bring about the deaths of a million or so Iraqis, now that unpleasantness is over and there's no reason for us to pay any attention to what's going on over there.

So, we will take note here that there has been a complete collapse of civil order in Basra as protesters trash every government building, political party headquarters, and facilities of Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian consulate. The water is undrinkable and people who have been poisoned are lying in hospital corridors untreated. Most of the time there is no electricity in 120 degree heat.

Protesters set fire to the Iranian consulate. I have not been able to find reports of the extent of the damage, but personnel all escaped unharmed. However this Reuters photo seems to show that the building was essentially gutted although it has a concrete exterior.

Of course Iraqi government officials are blaming everybody but themselves

Iraq's parliament is in emergency session as PM Abadi promises to violently repress the protests.

Interestingly, the U.S. State Department has implicitly condemned the assault on the Iranian consulate, without specifically naming it.


Mortar shells also fell in the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Update for Tuesday, September 3, 2018

One U.S. service member is killed, a second injured in an apparent "insider" attack in eastern Afghanistan. No further information is available as of now.

Note that General Scott Miller has taken over from Gen. John Nicholson as commander in Afghanistan. In Gen. Nicholson's departing remarks he says "It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end" and calls for peace negotiations.

Militants attack three schools in Paktika. No-one was present but severe damage forced the schools to close.

U.S. says it has killed Abu Sayed Orakzai, the leader of ISIS Khorasan Province, the IS affiliate in Afghanistan.

Taliban capture a district in Balkh.