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

Friday, August 7, 2015

Update for Friday, August 7, 2015

Two bombings in Kabul overnight. A huge truck bomb near the army base in Shah Shaheed killed 15 people and injured more than 200, apparently all civilians. The blast left a crater 10 meters deep, according to AFP.

Later, a suicide bomber attacked the police academy, causing an as yet unstated number of deaths. No-one has claimed responsibility for either attack as of 12:50 ET.

This follows multiple attacks on police locations on Thursday which killed 9, and the death of 17 Afghan personnel in a helicopter crash, which officials are attributing to a mechanical failure.

U.S. general John Campbell says that Afghanistan is losing 4,000 security personnel per month, mostly to desertion. However, out of a total of more than 300,000 personnel, he does not think this is "unsustainable." [Well, it would be 48,000 in a year, that's got to hurt. -- C]

The Taliban leadership crisis continues, with dissenters contending that Mullah Mansour is a puppet of the Pakistani directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. [It is not clear what factions may be behind the recent attacks, but clearly the turmoil in the Taliban does not bode well for prospects  for peace. -- C] As Salih Do─čan Writes in Zahman:

One would have thought that the death of Mullah Omar would weaken the Taliban insurgency and Kabul would have the upper hand in the peace talks; however, the group had accelerated attacks in Afghanistan after NATO concluded its combat mission by the end 2014 and they inflicted a record number of casualties on the Afghan national security forces. Taking the existence of current splinter groups and a possible power struggle within the Taliban administration into account, it will be really difficult for the Afghan government to find one-man leadership to negotiate with.