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


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Update for Thursday, January 24, 2019

DoD identifies U.S. service member killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday as Army Green Beret Sgt. First Class Joshua Beale of Carollton, VA. He was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was killed by small arms fire in Uruzgan province, "while on an operation to counter Taliban efforts." Note that we have been told publicly that U.S. forces are not engaged in combat operations against the Taliban, but only against IS and Al Qaeda, and that the U.S. has only an advise and assist mission against the Taliban. Evidently this is not true.

An air strike in Helmand province is said to kill 16 civilians, most of them women and children. It is not clear whether the operation was by Afghan or coalition forces, but one observer attributes it to the U.S.

Talks between U.S. and Taliban officials in Qatar entered a fourth day raising hopes for agreement on a cease fire and negotiations between the Taliban and the government.

Abdullah says the U.S. has reassured him that no final decision has been made on troop withdrawals and that any withdrawal will not affect combat capacity.


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