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, May 16, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, May 16, 2010

A man who was wounded in a bomb attack lies in a hospital in Dahuk, 400 km (245 miles) north of Baghdad, May 15, 2010. Bombers attacked players and spectators at a soccer field, killing eight people and wounding 120 others, in Tal Afar, 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, police and witnesses said. REUTERS/Stringer I posted this photo because we often tend to think of deaths as consequential but dismiss non-fatal injuries. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


House belonging to a police officer, still under construction, is destroyed by an explosion.


House of a police officer destroyed by explosion. The combination of these two incidents suggests a specific, targeted message of some kind -- C


One killed, one injured by gun fire.

Other News of the Day

Recount does not change allocation of parliamentary seats.

However, although the al-Iraqiya bloc led by Iyad Allawai received the most seats, current PM Nouri al-Maliki appears in position to retain his office as he has cobbled together a near-majority coalition, and appears to have struck a deal with Muqtada al-Sadr.

The view from Saudi Arabia is dire, however. Prince Turki al-Faisal accuses Maliki of "hijacking" the election, calls for UN Security Council intervention. Excerpt:

Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday of trying to "hijack" the results of Iraq's March general election.

"Adding to the brutal mayhem taking place there, we are watching a deliberate effort on the part of the incumbent prime minister, Mr al-Maliki, to hijack the results of the election and deny the Iraqi people their legitimately elected government," he said.

"The consequences of that are more bloodshed and potential civil war," Prince Turki, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States and Britain, told an audience of diplomats, journalists and businessmen attending a conference hosted by Arab News.


"Equally sinister are the designs of some of Iraq's neighbors to take advantage of impending Iraqi internal conflict to advance their acquisition of Iraqi territories," he said.

Turki pointed to what he said was Iran's recent "encroachment" on land in southern Iraq. He did not elaborate, but might have been referring to an incident in December, when Iranian troops briefly occupied an oil well on land claimed by Iraq.

"Imagine what will happen once internal strife and fighting escalates" in the wake of the US pullout, he said.

Without a Security Council effort to protect Iraq's current borders, he said, the consequence could be "regional conflict on a scale not seen since the Ottoman-Safavid wars of the 17th and 18th centuries."

Allawi also warns of trouble ahead. And this article also has more information about the deal between Maliki and al-Sadr. Excerpt:

The latest announcement came as former premier Iyad Allawi, who narrowly beat Maliki in the March 7 general election, said if recent violence that has swept through Iraq were to continue then civil war loomed.

His comments came after around five dozen attacks in five cities on Monday killed 110 people and wounded more than 500, in the deadliest streak of violence to hit the country this year.

"After the elections we have seen a new wave of sectarianism which is very dangerous and we have indications that we are heading towards a new peak," Allawi told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. "We are just at the beginning, but if the violence continues we are heading towards civil war."

Islamic State of Iraq says it has replaced the leaders recently killed by U.S. led raid.

Afghanistan Update

Militants attack the car of an official in Kandahar, injure him and kill his driver. The target, named Abdul Ghafar, apparently serves in some secretive security capacity. "A local official on the condition of anonymity said that Ghafar served as official with National Security Directorate."

Taliban kill four Iraqi interpreters working for the U.S. military and a western contractor. Also, five Afghan security guards escorting a fuel convoy killed in Ghazni.

Four security guards accompanying a fuel convoy injured in an attack in Kandahar on Saturday. This story also reports an ISAF soldier of unspecified nationality is killed, but this apparently is . . .

A U.S. service member was killed Sunday following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said. Alliance spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks confirmed an American died Sunday but declined to provide details, pending notification of the family of the service member.

Three Polish soldiers injured in an attack in Ghazni.

U.S. military leaders are rethinking the announced Kandahar "offensive," creating uncertainty. Excerpt:

On a visit to Washington last week in the company of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, spoke of a "slow-rising tide" of security measures in Kandahar province — not an outright bid to seize the city that is its capital. In recent weeks, Western military officials in Afghanistan have stopped referring to the Kandahar campaign as an offensive. "What we plan on is mainly an Afghan, politically led process … where you have slowly incremental changes of security, which enables governance and development," said Army Col. Wayne Shanks, the chief public affairs officer for NATO's International Security Assistance Force. "So this is not going to be anything that is immediate or quick."

Such talk leaves many Kandaharis baffled. Rangina Hamidi, who runs a handicraft business that employs Afghan village women in Kandahar province, said it was difficult for local people to understand why the North Atlantic Treaty Organization began talking publicly months ago about Kandahar being the next big target for Western forces. Most of the women I work with are illiterate and hardly ever leave their homes — they are not involved in public life," Hamidi said. "But even these women are saying, 'If you are going to do an offensive, why are you going to announce it in advance?'"

As U.S. officials seek to emphasize the campaign's political goals rather than its military ones, insurgent assassins are systematically targeting precisely the kind of people on whom Western planners are relying to help woo the populace to the side of the Afghan government: tribal elders, municipal employees, security officials, aid workers and others.

Top military officials have continued to rely on a secret network of private spies who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to American officials and businessmen, despite concerns among some in the military about the legality of the operation.

Quote of the Day

Remember, the QOTD in no way implies endorsement by the editors. I offer this to show what some people are thinking. Understanding is far more useful than mindless sloganeering about hating us for our freedom or whatever. For the record, I do not believe there is any realistic possibility of restoration of the Caliphate. -- C

General Dannatt, a recent adviser to Prime Minister Cameron, has previously been on the record attacking Islam’s ruling system, the Khilafah (Caliphate). However, this exchange on the BBC confirms a particular matter.

He explicitly said that if Muslims adopted Islam's political ideas and the Khilafah ruling system, this was unacceptable and warranted a military response from Britain. He had no issues with Muslims praying or enacting spiritual rituals, provided they surrendered political life to Western values. He tried to justify this by attempting to label Islam as a religion and not a deen, or way of life that encompasses political matters as well.

These comments echo the language of war mongers like Tony Blair, George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld – all of who justified the war on terror by demonising the desire of Muslims to restore the Islamic Caliphate – something that enjoys overwhelming popular support in the Muslim world.

Taji Mustafa, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain