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

Sunday, December 7, 2008

News of the Day for Sunday, December 7, 2008

Students read leaflets about landmines and explosives during a lesson by members of an NGO de-mining team in a primary school in Radhwaniy in Radhwaniya district western Baghdad December 7, 2008. REUTERS/Saad Shalash (IRAQ) Not the sort of lesson you hope your children have to learn -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Numerous dignitaries and security forces among 35 injured by bomb in a markeplace, during a ceremonious dismantling of barricades to celebrate reduced violence. The injured include the Mayor of Baquba, Abdullah al-Hiyali; police Lt. Col. Raghib al-Umairi; and 29 police officers, including 6 Awakening Council members. I am concluding from the story as it is written that the 6 Sahwa fighters are counted among the 29 police.


Double IED attack kill 1 police officer, injure 4. First bomb kills 1 officer, second attacks a backup force as they arrive, injuring 4.

Gunmen invade the home of a Sahwa fighter in the village of Dibaa al-Jadida, southwest of the city. The victim is hospitalized in unknown condition.


Car bomb attack on an Iraqi army patrol injures a bystander.

Iraqi army claims to have captured an unnamed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Note: VoI lists various other arrests in the Shiite dominated south but these are in relatively non-contested areas and appear to have been common criminals, so I have not listed them.-- C

Southeast Turkey, near the Iraq border

Turkey says it killed 2 PKK fighters and seized 2 tons of supplies. No explanation of how two men had two tons. Evidently they had built a cache over time.

Other News of the Day

Iraq imposes extraordinary security measures for upcoming Eid Al-Adha. Parking will be banned on major roads in Baghdad, as will the entry of motorcycles, and horse-drawn vehicles into markets.

A modest ceremony ends the Japanese mission in Iraq. Since Japanese ground forces left in 2006, Japan had continued to provide supply flights between Baghdad and southern Iraq. Even this role has now ended.

Iraqis announce plans to enhance security at the Central Bank, and archaeological sites, also prepares to take over embassy security, including the U.S. embassy.

Obama to nominated retired 4-star General Eric Shinseki to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Shinseki was ridiculed and forced into retirement by Donald Rumsfeld for asserting that hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops would be required to secure Iraq after the invasion.

Afghanistan Update

Militants in Peshawar, Pakistan, attack two supply terminals for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, destroying more than 160 vehicles.. The Portward Logistic Terminal was lightly guarded, and the the 9 guards on duty did not intervene. Police did not arrive for 40 minutes, allowing the attackers to escape. There, 106 vehicles were destroyed, including 70 Humvees. At nearby Faisal depot, 60 vehicles were destroyed. It is not clear if the attacks were carried out by the same band.

Shahedullah Baig, a spokesman for the interior minister in Islamabad, insisted Sunday that the extra security covered the terminals. "They are fully protected, but in this kind of situation such incidents happen," Baig said. However, Khan, the depot manager, said that was untrue, and there were only a handful of police at the terminals this afternoon.

Khan said his business, which handles some 600 truckloads a month for foreign troops in Afghanistan, had received repeated threats. He didn't want to discuss whom they were from for fear of incurring further wrath. "We don't feel safe here at all," he said. "It is almost impossible for us to continue with this business."

DPA gives a roundup of violence in Afghanistan:

  1. Taliban fighters attack a police post in Geriskh district of southern Helmand province. Provincial governor's spokesman says 3 police injured, 9 attackers killed. These claimed totals are not generally reliable. -- C

  2. Four militants said killed, 4 civilians injured in NATO airstrikes in Helmand

  3. Afghan soldier killed, 1 injured in roadside bomb attack in Gerishk

  4. Four Afghan soldiers killed, 2 injured in roadside bomb attack in Kunar

  5. "U.S. led" troops (probably meaning just U.S. troops -- C) kill 3, capture 4 in attack on forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami movement in Kapisa province

U.S. announces that buildup of its forces will be concentrated on the defense of Kabul. Excerpt:

Military commanders told the [New York] Times the plan for the incoming brigades means that fewer reinforcements will be immediately available for other areas in Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency has been most intense.

The new deployment plan also means that most of the newly arriving troops will not be available for use in blocking the flow of insurgents from their rear bases in Pakistan into Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is planning to send more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan in response to a request from the top U.S. commander there General David McKiernan. The first reinforcements will arrive in Afghanistan in January.

Quote of the Day

Lethal force involves blunt trauma and surgical strikes, [which] better describe a military planner's range of options than they do the effects produced on the ground…. We can pinpoint targets with total accuracy … as long as they don't move.

VA Secretary-designate Eric Shinseki