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 2, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, December 2, 2012

Complex attack on Jalalabad air base kills 5 Afghans working at the base, and the 9 attackers. According to AP, a suicide car bomb first exploded at the gate, then a 2 hour firefight ensued. Three of the attackers are said to have died in the initial explosions, the remaining 6 in the firefight. NATO helicopters may have killed some of the attackers. An unstated number of foreign troops were wounded.

An ISAF soldiers is killed in action in southern Afghanistan.  As usual, no further information as of now. (This TOLO story also reports on the separate capture of a Taliban commander in Kandahar province.)

As the NATO drawdown approaches (some U.S. troops will remain after 2014), Afghans are leaving the country. "The uncertainty of what Afghanistan will look like after 2014, when the NATO forces leave, has many Afghans heading for the exits, or at least trying to, and some are paying huge sums of money to get out any way they can." Smugglers charge up to $50,000 to get a family to Europe by way of Iran and Turkey.

Meanwhile, however, Iran is actively expelling Afghans  back to their native country. "In May, Iran threatened to expel Afghan refugees and migrant workers, in all about 2.4 million people, if Afghanistan signed a strategic security pact with the United States. The deal was struck." Now hundreds of Afghan refugees and migrant workers are being expelled every day.

UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond rules that Afghans in UK custody cannot be transferred to Afghan control because of the risk they will be mistreated. This follows information presented secretly at a lawsuit "brought on behalf of Afghan farmer Serdar Mohammed, 24, from the Kajaki district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, who says he was arrested by UK forces in April 2010 while working in the fields of his family's farm. He alleges he was tortured into giving a false confession that he was a member of the Taliban after being transferred to the NDS facility at Lashkar Gah."

Abdul Qadir Fitrat, who heads the investigation into the collapse of Kabul Bank, says the people responsible -- including two brothers of president Karzai -- are being protected by the president and that the tribunal has not been able to interview them, while innocent people have been accused. The partners in the bank simply looted it, transferring depositors' money to their own offshore accounts.