The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich


Monday, December 31, 2018

Update for Monday, December 31, 2018

Mujib Mashal reports for the New York Times that CIA-sponsored Afghan special forces in Khost and Nangarhar routinely commit atrocities including torture and murder. Do read. Here's an excerpt.

[T]he units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions.
Those abuses are actively pushing people toward the Taliban, the officials say. And with only a relatively small American troop contingent left — and that perhaps set to drop further on President Trump’s orders — the strike forces are increasingly the way that a large number of rural Afghans experience the American presence.
Those fighting forces, also referred to as counterterrorism pursuit teams, are recruited, trained and equipped by C.I.A. agents or contractors who work closely with them on their bases, according to several current and former senior Afghan security officials, and the members are paid nearly three times as much as regular Afghan soldiers. . . .

Air strike in Paktia kills a High Peace Committee member and five of his family. Unclear if Afghan or foreign forces conducted the strike.

Retired General McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says U.S. president Trump is untruthful and immoral.

Taliban representatives met with Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday as Iran seeks to advance peace negotiations.

In Iraq, Iraqi aircraft attacked an IS site in Syria, reportedly killing 30 IS leaders. Purportedly the Syrian government has given permission for such operations.


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