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, February 14, 2016

Update for Sunday, February 14, 2016

UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2015 counts 3,545 deaths and 7,457 injured, a record since the UN started keeping a tally in 2009. One in every four casualties was a child. The report finds that anti-government forces were responsible for 62% of civilian casualties. However, the number of civilian casualties caused by anti-government forces was down since 2014, while casualties caused by pro-government forces, including irregular militias, increased.

Security remains poor in Kunduz, hampering the work of civil society organizations and driving many of them out of the area entirely.

Heavy fighting continues in Sangin, Helmand. Officials say life is difficult for local residents but lack of communication makes assessment of civilian casualties impossible.