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, December 27, 2018

Update for Thursday, December 27, 2018

Iraqi politicians react with fury to U.S. president's clandestine visit to a U.S. military base in Iraq. The visit was not pre-arranged with the Iraqi government and many members of parliament condemned it as a violation of diplomatic norms and Iraqi sovereignty. Some have called for a special session of parliament to vote on the expulsion of U.S. troops.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq group, expressed the Iraqis’ resolve to purge the country of American forces.

“Iraqis will respond with a parliamentary decision to oust your (US) military forces. And if they do not leave, we have the experience and the ability to remove them by other means that your forces are familiar with,” he tweeted.

Sabah al-Saadi, the leader of the Islah parliamentary bloc, also called for an emergency session of the parliament “to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The US occupation of Iraq is over.”

Similarly, the Bina parliamentary bloc denounced Trump’s trip to Iraq, saying, it was “a flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government.”
Trump revealed the location of SEAL team 5 and showed the faces of its members  in a video he posted on-line. "[E]xperts noticed that details of this video could put the US SEAL team in danger amid concern that President Trump revealed top-secret information. . . . Current and former Pentagon officials have since admitted that revealing the location of a deployment of SEAL Team Five violates operational security."

Trump apparently violated DoD rules by signing MAGA hats for troops.

"What commander allowed that to really happen?” [CNN correspondent]Barbara Starr asked Wednesday night. “This is very much against military policy and regulation,” Starr said. “Troops are not supposed to be involved in political activities, the U.S. military is not a political force.” . . .And CNN military analyst retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said that Trump put military personnel “in a very bad position” with his comments to the troops, which were criticized as being akin to a “campaign rally.”
Two artillery shells land near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, no damage reported.