Is Afghanistan a Lost Cause


We are there and we are committed” was the regular retort of Secretary of State Dean Rusk during the war in Vietnam.

Whatever you may think of our decision to go in, Rusk was saying, if we walk away, the United States loses the first war in its history, with all that means for Southeast Asia and America’s position in the world.

We face a similar moment of decision.

Wednesday, a truck bomb exploded near the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, killing 90 and wounding 460. So terrible was the atrocity that the Taliban denied complicity. It is believed to have been the work of the Haqqani network.

This “horrific and shameful attack demonstrates these terrorists’ compete disregard for human life and their nihilistic opposition to the dream of a peaceful future for Afghanistan,” said Hugo Llordens, a U.S. diplomat in Kabul.

The message the truck bombers sent to the Afghan people? Not even in the heart of this capital can your government keep civilian workers and its own employees safe.

Message to America: After investing hundreds of billions and 2,000 U.S. lives in the 15 years since 9/11, we are further from victory than we have ever been.

President Obama, believing Afghanistan was the right war, and Iraq the wrong war, ramped up the U.S. presence in 2011 to 100,000 troops. His plan: Cripple the Taliban, train the Afghan army and security forces, stabilize the government, and withdraw American forces by the end of his second term.

Obama fell short, leaving President Trump with 8,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and Kabul’s control more tenuous than ever. The Taliban hold more territory and are active in more provinces than they have been since being driven from power in 2001. And Afghan forces are suffering casualties at the highest rate of the war.

Stated starkly, the war in Afghanistan is slowly being lost.

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Indeed, Trump has inherited what seems to be an unwinnable war, if he is not prepared to send a new U.S. army to block the Taliban from taking power. And it is hard to believe that the American people would approve of any large reintroduction of U.S. forces.

The U.S. commander there, Gen. John Nicholson, has requested at least 3,000 more U.S. troops to train the Afghan army and stabilize the country while seeking a negotiated end to the war.

Trump’s conundrum: 3,000 or 5,000 more U.S. troops can at best help the Afghan security forces sustain the present stalemate.

But if we could not defeat the Taliban with 100,000 U.S. troops in country in 2011, we are not going to defeat a stronger Taliban with a U.S. force one-seventh of that size. And if a guerrilla army does not lose, it wins.

Yet it is hard to see how Trump can refuse to send more troops. If he says we have invested enough blood and treasure, the handwriting will be on the wall. Reports that both Russia and Iran are already talking to the Taliban suggest that they see a Taliban takeover as inevitable.

http://buchanan.org/blog/afghanistan-lost-cause-127140

BUCHANAN: IS AFGHANISTAN A LOST CAUSE?


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Whatever you may think of our decision to go in, Rusk was saying, if we walk away, the United States loses the first war in its history, with all that means for Southeast Asia and America’s position in the world.

We face a similar moment of decision.

Wednesday, a truck bomb exploded near the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, killing 90 and wounding 460. So terrible was the atrocity that the Taliban denied complicity. It is believed to have been the work of the Haqqani network.

https://www.infowars.com/buchanan-is-afghanistan-a-lost-cause/

US to leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into 2017, 35 percent more than expected


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The US will leave 8,400 troops through the end of the Obama administration, the president announced. Obama had planned to drop troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 troops by the end of 2016. But the increase of Taliban attacks have intensified calls to leave more troops there.

“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said. The Afghan military still needs our help, the president added.

“It is in our national security interest, esp after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested over the years, that we give our partners in afghan the best chance to succeed.”

Flanked by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, Obama announced Washington’s new exit strategy from the White House’s Roosevelt Room on Wednesday. His remarks focused on the need for partnership between the US and Afghan militaries.

https://www.rt.com/usa/349693-obama-afghanistan-withdrawal-number/

US TO LEAVE 8,400 TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN INTO 2017, 35 PERCENT MORE THAN EXPECTED


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America’s combat mission in Afghanistan “came to a responsible end” a year and a half ago, Obama said. Forces there are now focused on “two narrow missions”: training and terrorism prevention. “But even these narrow missions continue to be dangerous.”

The US will leave 8,400 troops through the end of the Obama administration, the president announced. Obama had planned to drop troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 troops by the end of 2016. But the increase of Taliban attacks have intensified calls to leave more troops there.

The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said. The Afghan military still needs our help, the president added.

“It is in our national security interest, esp after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested over the years, that we give our partners in afghan the best chance to succeed.”

http://www.infowars.com/us-to-leave-8400-troops-in-afghanistan-into-2017-35-percent-more-than-expected/

ARMY RETAINS DECORATED GREEN BERET IT PLANNED TO KICK OUT OVER CONFRONTING AFGHAN CHILD RAPIST


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Sgt 1st Class Charles Martland, confirmed the Army’s decision to retain him when reached by Fox News, who has been covering the story in depth for the past eight months and first broke the story of the Army’s decision in August to kick out Martland over the incident, which occurred in northern Afghanistan in 2011.

“I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve,” said Martland when reached on the telephone by Fox News. “I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper did for me.”

As first reported by Fox News, while deployed to Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, Martland and his team leader confronted a local police commander in 2011 accused of raping an Afghan boy and beating his mother. When the man laughed off the incident, they shoved him to the ground.

http://www.infowars.com/army-retains-decorated-green-beret-it-planned-to-kick-out-over-confronting-afghan-child-rapist/

Feds Spent $86 Million on Plane That Can’t Fly


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The Department of Defense and Drug Enforcement Administration collectively spent $86 million to fight drug crime in Afghanistan on a plane that cannot fly.

The Office of Inspector General for the Justice Department released a reportWednesday chronicling the boondoggle, which initially started as an $8 million project eight years ago.

“In fiscal year 2008 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) expended nearly $8.6 million to purchase an ATR 42-500 aircraft (ATR 500) to support its counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan,” the inspector general said. “The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed to modify the DEA’s ATR 500 with surveillance equipment and other capabilities to conduct such operations in the combat environment of Afghanistan in what became known as the Global Discovery program.”

“Even though collectively the DEA and DOD have spent more than $86 million on the Global Discovery program, we found that, over seven years after the aircraft was purchased for the program, the aircraft remains inoperable, resting on jacks, and has never actually flown in Afghanistan,” the inspector general said.

http://freebeacon.com/issues/feds-86-million-plane-cant-fly/

Taliban reject invite to Afghanistan peace talks


The Taliban are invited to the negotiating table, but they aren’t coming.

The Islamist militant group made that clear Saturday, refuting reports that it would send representatives to upcoming talks involving the Afghan government, Pakistan, the United States and China in the Pakistani city of Islamabad.

“We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the esteemed leader of the Islamic Emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting, and neither has the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate decided to partake in it,” the Taliban said, using another name for itself.

The announcement appears to be a significant blow to the peace talks and is a reversal from what the Taliban reportedly have done in the past.

Taliban representatives met with their Afghan government counterparts, as well as with U.S. and Chinese officials, last summer in Pakistan, officials said.

But just weeks later, the Taliban’s reported new leader (Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour) deniedin an audio message that his Sunni Islamist group was trying to work toward peace with Afghanistan’s government.

Such pronouncements haven’t stopped other parties from talking, or from trying to include the Taliban.

After conversations in Kabul on February 23, the Afghan government sent out a news release noting President Ashraf Ghani’s “strong commitment … for peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups and Hezbi Islami Hekmatyar,” the latter being another nationalist militant group.

Characterizing it as a “national priority,” Ghani called “on the Taliban and other groups to join early direct talks with the government of Afghanistan.”

And the Afghanistan, Pakistani, Chinese and U.S. governments together “invite(d) all Taliban and other groups to participate … in the first round of direct peace talks” slated for early March in Islamabad, Pakistan.

 http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/05/asia/afghanistan-taliban-violence-talks/

Taliban Militants Cast Doubt on Peace Talks With Afghan Government


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Afghanistan’s Taliban militants are casting further doubt on prospects for peace talks with the Kabul government.

In a Pashto language statement given Saturday to VOA, the Taliban said their leadership had not yet decided to engage in talks with Kabul. They said they believed talks could not be productive until all foreign forces had left Afghanistan, sanctions on insurgent leaders had been removed and Taliban prisoners had been freed.

The statement said U.S. night raids in Afghanistan were continuing. It added that fresh American forces had been deployed to the battlefield and that Afghan forces had also intensified their operations. The Taliban said that in the light of those developments, peace talks would be meaningless.

http://www.voanews.com/content/taliban-casts-doubt-on-peace-talks/3220977.html

Taliban conflict: Militants refuse fresh Afghan peace talks


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Direct talks were expected to begin in Pakistan next week between the Taliban and Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US.

The Taliban have been waging an insurgency against the Afghan government since being ousted in 2001.

Talks between the two have been on hold since last year.

The Quadrilateral Coordination Group, made up of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US, had insisted in February that talks would take place in early March.

But in a statement released on Saturday, the group rejected those reports.

“We reject all such rumours and unequivocally state that the leader of Islamic Emirate has not authorised anyone to participate in this meeting,” the group said in a statement.

“(Islamic Emirate) once again reiterates that unless the occupation of Afghanistan is ended, black lists eliminated and innocent prisoners freed, such futile misleading negotiations will not bear any result”, the statement added.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35736434

Afghan civilian casualties top 11 000


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The number of civilians killed or wounded in Afghanistan last year was the highest recorded since 2009, the UN said Sunday, with children paying a particularly heavy price.

There were 11 002 civilian casualties in 2015 including 3 545 deaths, the UN said in its annual report on Afghan civilians in armed conflict, a four percent rise over the previous high in 2014.

“The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable,” said Nicholas Haysom, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan.

“We call on those inflicting this pain on the people of Afghanistan to take concrete action to protect civilians and put a stop to the killing and maiming.”

Fighting and attacks in populated areas and major cities were described as the main causes of civilian deaths in 2015, underscoring a push by Taliban militants into urban centres “with a high likelihood of causing civilian harm”, the report stated.

The UN began compiling the annual report in 2009.

Including Taliban-claimed attacks, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan assigned responsibility for 62% of total civilian casualties in 2015 to anti-government elements.

The Taliban rejected the report’s findings in a statement Sunday.

But the report also noted a 28% year-on-year surge in the number of casualties caused by pro-government forces, including the Afghan army and international troops.

Seventeen percent of all casualties in 2015 were caused by such forces, the report said. It was not possible to say which side caused remaining 21 percent of casualties.

http://www.news24.com/World/News/afghan-civilian-casualties-top-11-000-20160214