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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Update for Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Iraq claims victory over IS forces in Tikrit, although in fact pockets of resistance remain.

State television showed Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, accompanied by leaders of the army and police, the provincial governor and Shi'ite paramilitary leaders, parading through Tikrit and raising an Iraqi flag. . . . With explosions and gunfire still audible, and columns of smoke dotting the horizon, Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghabban told reporters that security forces were fighting to clear the city's last Islamic State holdout, the northern neighbourhood of Qadissiyah.

The city is nearly abandoned, and the "liberation" was accomplished largely by Shiite militias, as there is still no effective Iraqi national army. Unless Abadi can find a way for citizens to return and establish effective local governance, garrisoned and protected by forces they can trust, and receiving fair treatment and proportionate services from the Baghdad government, this will not be a victory but just the beginning of a new phase in Iraq's civil war. C

In Afghanistan, the Pentagon cannot account for $45 billion spent before 2010. How much of it was actually stolen or squandered is unknown -- they just didn't have a system to keep track of it. No, this is not an April fool joke.

Some powerful Afghans and government agencies have not paid their electricity bills for 10 years.

Anand Gopal says the Taliban tried to surrender in 2001-2002, but the U.S. needed an enemy to fight:

So you had a particular type of situation in January or February of 2002, where you had thousands of soldiers, mostly Special Forces soldiers, on the ground in Afghanistan, but you had no Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban as a military movement was essentially defunct. So in other words, you had thousands of soldiers on the ground without an enemy to fight.But we had a political mandate, and that mandate was that we're here to fight a war on terror, and you're either with us or against us. This Manichean worldview essentially categorized Afghans into two categories, which were either terrorists or good guys, really doing away with all of the shades of gray that make the reality of Afghanistan.And so this was a contradiction. How did that contradiction get resolved? Well, in a very profound and I would say very tragic way this contradiction got resolved, which is that the U.S. allied with the warlords. Local commanders and strongmen. And in effect, the enemies of those warlords became the enemies of the United States.

Parliamentary election will be postponed for one year, "due to some reasons."