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There's still a war going on
September 13, 2012 10:49 PM   Subscribe

August was one of the deadliest months in Afghanistan, for both civilians and soldiers. The death toll was increased by so-called 'green-on-blue' attacks by members of the Afghan National Army and police forces on ISAF and US forces.

These attacks have been steadily rising, with no solution or end in sight. President Karzai blames 'infiltrators,' but there is little evidence of this. Training the ANA is a cornerstone of US withdrawal plans. Calculating the number of dead in war can be difficult.

Can US Gains Last? Afghans are pushing for elections, developing a 'civil society,' while the US engages other world powers. Reconstruction often can go awry, with waste, fraud and corruption.

The Right Way Out Of Afghanistan, with discussion. Some are skeptical that it will work, and others see mission failure.

Despite riots, Pakistan has reopened its border to US convoys, to smiles all around. Pakistan is still dealing with Afghan refugees, regional rival India, and the rise of the Quetta Shura. Pakistani bureaucrats have a history of being the right man for the wrong job, with Americans no better off.

The Taliban is still a major force in the region, in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan - particularly Waziristan (where the British had their own problems), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Taliban have recently become more active in Pakistan, claiming victory, opposing a planned offensive, even storming an air base killing several soldiers. Pakistan and Afghanistan are uneasily cooperating against an enemy that crosses their border. The US, though, has no idea who Taliban leaders are. The Taliban are in it for the long haul.

This summer has been the summer of revolt, with factional fighting and disillustionment with the Taliban. Even 11 years after 9/11, Afghanistan still matters.

In the United States, after eleven years, it is the new forgotten war. Neither presidential candidate has made the ongoing war a central point of their campaigns. 9/11 may have made Democrats more like Republicans, however.

We're still at war.
posted by the man of twists and turns (67 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
What I find interesting is there are just as many (or more) "bad guys" in Afghanistan today as there were when invaded. All the high tech killing weaponry in the world is swatting the fleas of a camel with the feather of a hummingbird.
posted by stbalbach at 10:54 PM on September 13, 2012


I think I've been reading too much Metafilter lately. When I read about "green-on-blue" attacks, my first instinct was to assume that frequent AskMe readers were staging a violent coup to take over the blue frontpage.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:03 PM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think it's interesting that the Afghanis are showing every possibility of defeating not just one, but both of the world's greatest superpowers, at the height of their respective strengths.
posted by Malor at 11:25 PM on September 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


The question that needs to be asked (for the War on Terror as a whole, but for Afghanistan as well) is "what is the victory condition?" How will we know when we've won? Every answer I've ever heard to this has been deeply unsatisfying.
posted by Jimbob at 11:32 PM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


How will we know when we've won?

And, as was being asked before the invasion even started, we should have known that before even a single boot hit the ground. If we still can't answer that question eleven years later, it strikes me that we're fighting just to make Halliburton rich.
posted by Malor at 11:42 PM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


*deep doleful sigh*

*settles down to read much appreciated sensemaking FPP*
posted by infini at 11:50 PM on September 13, 2012


The "green-on-blue" link says that the phrase stems from the colours of the different uniforms, but that's not it. Usual military parlance dubs the enemy "red", your own side "blue" and allies "green". This is used for map symbols and the like. Hence the term "blue-on-blue" which also pops up in the media from time to time, meaning mistaken attacks on your own forces.
posted by Harald74 at 11:51 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that the Afghanis are showing every possibility of defeating not just one, but both of the world's greatest superpowers, at the height of their respective strengths.

If Rule 1 is to never get involved in a land war in Asia, Rule 1a has to be don't fuck with a population capable of making guns and ammunition from scrap using primitive tools and their bare hands.

What a pointless tragic endeavor.
posted by clearly at 11:55 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The War Within The War For Afghanistan: the abandoned city of Now Zad

Attacks rise and troop deaths fall

COIN and other four-letter words

Politically Incorrect Guide to US Interests in the Middle East
To keep commerce free (I think Obama means oil), the United States supports the authoritarian Saudi kings. To keep the region secure, it backs the repressive Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain, which gives the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet the port access that allows it to project power across the Gulf. And to stand up for Israel, the United States gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion per year to protect the peace treaty and turn a blind eye while the generals protect their praetorian privileges. As far as championing the rights of the Arab peoples, see America's largely hands-off policy on Syria -- correct though I believe it to be.

I'm not complaining, mind you, just reporting. But the United States needs to be clear and stop pretending. There are certain things in this region it really cares about and that resonate powerfully at home, and others that don't -- and in any event are less susceptible to American influence, power, and persuasions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:59 PM on September 13, 2012


Except that it wasn't one of the most deadly months for NATO troops.

52 NATO soldiers died in September -- down from 82 a year ago -- which makes it the lowest casualty tally for an August since 2008. (August has typically shown higher than average casualties than other months in Afghanistan.)

Out of the 52 NATO soldiers who died in September, Green on Blue incidents accounted for the death of 2 soldiers from New Zealand, 3 soldiers from Australia, and 8 US soldiers... 13 in total out of 52.

Despite the increases in "Green on Blue" attacks, many of which have been stopped thanks to the timely intervention of Afghan forces, we are currently on track for about a 30% reduction in US fatalities in Afghanistan... and that's despite having more troops in the field than in most prior years.

Keep in mind that NATO forces are very busy training and escorting what must now be about 320,000 Afghan National Army troops. If you take a look at how these troops have been responding overall, it's been a very promising year. Major Taliban offensives in places such as Kandahar and the passes leading into Afghanistan from Pakistan have been stopped cold thanks to surprisingly aggressive and effective actions from the ANA and Afghan police.

When you're training and helping command that many forces of a different nationality, driving them to do hard patrols in the heat of the day and putting them in harm's way, tempers will flare up. Many similar deaths happened in Iraq -- quite likely substantially more than Green on Blue attacks in Afghanistan -- but they were largely not accounted for in government casualty figures, because many of those killed were private contractors.

In other words, these kinds of deaths seem to be pretty much what you would expect in such circumstances.

However, that does not mean that the mission is unsuccessful. It just means that training a foreign army of that size from the bottom up that is capable of securing most key, populated parts of Afghanistan comes at a price.

Hopefully, the Afghan people will make the most of the hard fought gains that have been achieved. They certainly did not come easily.
posted by markkraft at 12:27 AM on September 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would say though, the biggest problem with the surge in Afghanistan is that it was years too late.

The Bush administration tried reconstruction without security... which failed utterly.

The Obama administration tried security... but had limited success with reconstruction, in large part because both the State Department and the NGOs that might ordinarily go into a situation like Afghanistan 2001 instead went into Afghanistan 2010... or in many cases, didn't, because it was already presumed to be too dangerous for civilian workers.

What was needed was a full court press from the get-go, in order to have a good chance of success... not that we probably should've sent ground troops in in the first place.

However, most people overlook that President Obama's involvement in Afghanistan was a compromise... and one that his voters knew about when they voted for him. McCain had arguably the strongest foreign policy credentials of any recent presidential candidate. In order to establish himself as a reasonable alternative, President Obama had to come up with a policy that looked credible... which meant focusing on Afghanistan.

So that's what you got. It's what gave President Obama a fair shot of winning even before the election transformed into one that was mostly about Republican economic failures. The price, though, was "splitting the difference" between complete, immediate withdrawal and, essentially, a longterm footprint in the Islamic world.

The surge has had significant successes... mainly that the Taliban has been weakened from where they were basically trapping NATO forces on base and shelling and IEDing them pretty indiscriminately, to one where the Taliban are, essentially, terrorists, no longer daring to use concentrated forces to control territory in most parts of Afghanistan.

That's a huge deal, as is greatly increasing the size of the military and police. To what degree will it work? We don't know, yet, but most of what I hear from soldiers is cautiously optimistic.

The idea that Afghan troops are useless is a joke... and an old, bad one. (One they used to say about American troops, back in Revolutionary War days, Union troops in the Civil War, American troops during WWI and WWII, etc.) It no longer jibes with the reality of them standing and fighting on many occasions... and doing a really nice job especially, when defending. They aren't as green as they used to be... and will get tougher still. Most importantly, perhaps, they are professionally trained and paid, and many are strongly motivated... perhaps moreso than many Taliban.

In comparison, the past few years haven't been as kind to the Taliban, who are facing increasing fracturing and local opposition, precisely because their tactics are so harmful to the civilian population of Afghanistan.

Keep in mind that McCain still opposes withdrawal anytime soon. That was your other realistic option... that plus a dragged out Iraq, a greatly enlarged military, etc.

You can criticize current policy... but I think what it comes down to is that most of you voted to support it. By and large, the current administration has done a pretty good job keeping the end game in Iraq a relatively "soft landing", compared to the widescale ethnic cleansing we saw before. I think they can and will pull off the same thing in Afghanistan. In both cases, people *WILL* die, but I think they're leading things towards a status quo that should simmer the conflict down, and prevent fullscale civil war in both countries.

It's not great, perhaps. The price paid is tragic. But it could be much, much worse.
posted by markkraft at 1:35 AM on September 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


We're still at war.

Indeed. "We" are still at war. There are forty-odd countries that contribute to the ISAF. Even non-NATO countries like Sweden and Tonga are "still at war" in Afghanistan.

This motley crew of democratic imperialists have outlasted the Soviet effort so take that communists.
posted by three blind mice at 2:23 AM on September 14, 2012


What I find interesting is there are just as many (or more) "bad guys" in Afghanistan today as there were when invaded.

Quick! Somebody tell the five million refugees who have returned to Afghanistan since 2002 that they're less safe than before the ISAF turned up!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:45 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quick! Somebody tell the five million refugees who have returned to Afghanistan since 2002 that they're less safe than before the ISAF turned up!

I would love to but the phone networks don't work!
posted by jaduncan at 5:34 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hopefully, the Afghan people will make the most of the hard fought gains that have been achieved.

Which gains would those be? Since the Obama regime and DOD have yet to lay out what they consider victory conditions one would think that even being able to identify what a "gain" is would be problematic. But of course in this case the word "gain" is what Orwell calls a meaningless word. It neither means anything nor references any substantive category or concept in the real world. It is a placeholder whose sole intent is to rhetorically deceive.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:01 AM on September 14, 2012


It's almost as if they don't want us there.
posted by Damienmce at 6:03 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to but the phone networks don't work!

*cough* *hack* *spit*
posted by infini at 6:36 AM on September 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's almost as if they don't want us there.

It's almost as if we don't want t0 be there.
posted by Xurando at 6:36 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


markkraft, how long would you support an occupying force retraining troops in the United States?
posted by deanklear at 6:37 AM on September 14, 2012


The "little evidence of this" link is an opinion article with almost no evidence of its own and a lot of references to British imperial activities 90 or so years ago. It does nothing to refute the idea those who attack NATO troops are infiltrators.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:37 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that the Afghanis are showing every possibility of defeating not just one, but both of the world's greatest superpowers, at the height of their respective strengths.

The Chinese haven't had a crack yet
posted by mattoxic at 6:40 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, "Failure in Afghanistan" is a Republican talking point - things have been quietly improving over the past four years. The Taliban have gone from the de-facto power to a tiny guerrilla presence as the new government is solidifying control. The attacks are showier, but less and less effective and increasingly uncommon.

Of course, it's not where it should be, mostly due to Bush draining resources and attention from the conflict to ride his Iraq hobbyhorse.

Victory condition is that Bin Laden is found and captured or killed, Afghanistan does not fall into genocidal civil war, and it is also no longer a viable base for international terrorism. All of these ends have been pretty much achieved, 2014 seems a good time to get out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:42 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a great idea, guys. I think this will work, and I dunno why we didn't think of this before. Why don't we just stop killing people? It'll be way cheaper.
posted by cmoj at 7:58 AM on September 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


For who?
posted by lalochezia at 8:15 AM on September 14, 2012


Let's get the fuck out of there already. Let's spend our time and treasure nation-building in Camden, Detroit, Oakland, etc.
posted by Renoroc at 8:31 AM on September 14, 2012


Not to derail, but man, I don't want to see those Halliburton/Xe nation-builders anywhere near my beloved Detroit.
posted by palindromic at 8:50 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that the Afghanis are showing every possibility of defeating not just one, but both of the world's greatest superpowers, at the height of their respective strengths.

Not really, in my opinion.

The superpowers in question are fighting asymmetrically on foreign ground; they are not (and have not been) experts in this type of warfare, although they've been coming up to speed pretty darn quickly.

Also, "defeat" is a subjective definition given that we don't have a clear idea of "victory."
posted by Thistledown at 9:12 AM on September 14, 2012


All of this war business, whether here, there or on Youtube, seems like a grander version of "this is this century's Vietnam"...

I believe its called teh sunk cost maneuvre
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on September 14, 2012


My colleague just posted this: FRONTLINE: Syria’s Shocking Civilian Death Toll.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:27 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those interested in something other than propaganda pieces about the war:
A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.

The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan.

“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”
There hasn't been a single successful occupation in the post-War world that has left a nation better than it was before the occupation began. The reason is simple, and you can picture it by imagining a technically superior army invading the United States: even in the case of a perfect invasion, with zero torture, zero civilians killed, and zero collateral damage — which is an impossibility — there are elements of every society that are armed and that would never accept the occupation. The external stress can only go one way: factionalizing the population of those collaborating with the invasion, and those who punish them, which will either lead to a never-ending low intensity conflict or a brutal civil war won by one side or the other.

Expecting any sort of different outcome in places like Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Syria already consumed by sectarian violence is beyond naive. It's dangerously stupid, and we should stop pretending that promoting violence in those areas will lead to anything other than less security and less chance of stability than whatever we start with. Repelling occupying forces is practically a national pastime in Afghanistan, and they have eventually ejected every single military force, regardless of how disadvantaged they were militarily. They don't call it the Graveyard of Empires for nothing.

After Vietnam, after Iraq (twice? thrice?), after Afghanistan (twice), and all of our other military failures over the past 60 years, it's plain to see we winning an occupation is an impossibility. Unless we are willing to lose the last bit of humanity we have left and begin exterminating the opposition as past empires have done, we need to quit pretending that these densely complex problems can be helped by sticking our noses in and arming one side against the other.
posted by deanklear at 12:19 PM on September 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Britain's withdrawal from Afghanistan could be speeded up amid optimism among commanders that local forces are taking on combat roles faster than anticipated, it was reported last night.
posted by homunculus at 2:38 PM on September 14, 2012


2 Marines killed in attack in southern Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2012


One of my friends is going off for training this week in preparation to be deployed in Afghanistan. He's already served in Iraq.

What are we hoping to accomplish at this point that over a decade of occupation hasn't done? For what reason are we risking good men and women?
posted by Talanvor at 6:21 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"On Saturday, a Taliban commander told Sky News that Prince Harry was the main focus of the attack on Camp Bastion, but other Taliban spokesmen told media organisations that the attack was in revenge for the anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims."
posted by homunculus at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2012


What are we hoping to accomplish at this point that over a decade of occupation hasn't done? For what reason are we risking good men and women?

Perhaps establishing an on-going legacy of good, old-fashioned Chaos — not to mention fear, uncertainty, and doubt — is the best way to tip over the Axis, and constant force may be required to keep it there.
posted by cenoxo at 5:26 PM on September 15, 2012


One of the clearest signs that everything is not going well is that constantly for ten years we've been hearing that "things will really turn around in six month's time". *sigh*
posted by Harald74 at 10:13 PM on September 15, 2012


Foreign troops killed in southern Afghanistan: "Four foreign soldiers and one Afghan policeman killed in latest "insider" attack in Zabul province, officials say ... At least 51 foreign military personnel have been killed in insider attacks, where men dressed as members of the Afghan security forces have attacked foreign forces, in Afghanistan this year. "
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:37 PM on September 15, 2012


I want to pull that out and emphasize it, from deanklear's comment:
We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”
In other words -- don't believe what we tell the rubes back home, we're manipulating their opinion. You're here, you know how bad it is, ignore the fluff.

There it is in plain, clear language. If anything I've seen in the last year or so is worthy of the blink tag, that would be it.
posted by Malor at 2:42 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nato airstrike 'kills eight women and girls' in Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on September 16, 2012


Operation Enduring Freedom
posted by de at 10:14 AM on September 16, 2012


Insurgents Posed as U.S. Troops to Strike at Afghan Air Base
The assault began “shortly after 10:00 p.m.” when “approximately 15″ insurgents — organized in three teams and wearing American uniforms — “penetrated at one point of the perimeter fence” and “executed a well-coordinated attack against the airfield,” according to ISAF. The Harrier jump jets destroyed or damaged in the assault had been parked out in the open on the flightline, the alliance stated.
Naming The Phases of the War in Afghanistan
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:25 AM on September 16, 2012


"Which gains would those be? Since the Obama regime and DOD have yet to lay out what they consider victory conditions... "

Not the least bit true.

"Nobody thinks that Afghanistan is going to be a model Jeffersonian democracy. What we're looking to do is difficult but it's a fairly modest goal, which is: Don't allow terrorists to operate from this region. Don't allow them to create big training camps and to plan attacks on the U.S. homeland with impunity. That can be accomplished." - President Obama, 2010

"Over the past three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban's momentum. We built strong Afghan security forces. We devistated al Qaeda's leadership, taking out over twenty of their top thirty leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. The goal that I set, to defeat Al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild, is now within reach." President Obama, 2012

In fact, he breaks it down into five key components for you.
posted by markkraft at 9:32 PM on September 16, 2012


"The assault began “shortly after 10:00 p.m.” when “approximately 15″ insurgents — organized in three teams and wearing American uniforms — “penetrated at one point of the perimeter fence” and “executed a well-coordinated attack against the airfield,”

Indeed... they killed two soldiers before 14 of them were killed and the other captured.

Despite a 7-1 kill ratio, it was one of the Taliban's most audacious and successful direct attacks in recent history. Quite often, entire groups are wiped out with no casualties whatsoever... which is largely why the Taliban are so rarely able/willing to launch direct attacks on NATO -- or even Afghan -- forces anymore. You rarely hear them organizing attacks in groups larger than about this size anymore, where once they moved in the hundreds.

As a result, they rely on bombings and kill a ton of civilians instead -- the vast majority of civilian deaths in Afghanstan now come from the Taliban -- which is part of why there are an increasing amount of local uprisings against the Taliban, even in areas where NATO or the Afghan Army/police lacks a solid presence. It's gotten to the point that the Taliban's leader has had to give a warning recently to avoid civilian casualties, because of the backlash they are starting to receive. No wonder, really.

Despite the Taliban's efforts, civilian casualties have fallen 15% recently.
posted by markkraft at 9:56 PM on September 16, 2012


Not the least bit true.

I guess if you accept that talking points which have no bearing on reality goals then yes. I suppose you also buy the line about Arabs attacking our embassies because of a movie no one has ever seen.

Listen others here have already amply demonstrated that the official story is nothing more than propaganda designed to manipulate the opinion of the American public. After learning this a rational person would rethink their views in light of this new information. Since you have instead ignored this new information and plowed ahead pushing the official narrative I have to say I'm inclined to disregard anything further you have to say as having no connection to anything we can call truth or reality.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:31 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unlike Afghan leaders, Obama fights for power of indefinite military detention
posted by homunculus at 12:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the clearest signs that everything is not going well is that constantly for ten years we've been hearing that "things will really turn around in six month's time".

Berlin by Christmas, boys. Berlin by Christmas.
posted by jaduncan at 7:15 AM on September 20, 2012


Deadly Blast Hits Pakistan's Peshawar
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2012


"I suppose you also buy the line about Arabs attacking our embassies because of a movie no one has ever seen."

Well, none of us, at least.

"Since you have instead ignored this new information..."

It's not that I ignored it. It's that the statement in question was ridiculously, painfully, obvious... so much so that I would've thought even you would understand it.

"A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that . . . "no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”

To which I say... DUUUUUUH!!!!

Are you suggesting that the Department of Defense spins the truth -- or sometimes even lies -- to the American public? Well good golly, I, Mark Kraft, wouldn't know anything about that. (Take a few secs to read the 3rd paragraph, please...)
Seriously... *you* catch the DoD in a whopper, break the news worldwide, and get the State Department to issue a retraction, and then you can lecture me on how I'm a hapless victim of government propaganda.

The DoD has its own PR people... and PR people do what PR people do. They twist, turn, evade... and sometimes, they even lie... though the good ones try not to, or at least try to hedge their bets a bit, because they know how damaging the PR can be if they are caught in a lie. But it's hard, because they really do want to defend an institution that they feel is generally in the right, despite being much maligned.

And, to tell the truth, sometimes those PR people are dead wrong without even knowing it, and wouldn't be able to tell you what the real truth is, because it's out there in a combat zone, where the boys in the boots are, and there's a dozen layers of "Cover Your Ass" between their stateside briefing room and the people who are out there doing the killing. Keep in mind that the PR people only know what they've been told, and sometimes what they're told is on a "need to know" basis.

So yes, there's spin, deceptions -- oftentimes self-deceptions -- and lies in the PR departments of the bureaucratic mess we call The Department of Defense. Imagine your standard corporate bureaucracy, add a million people to it, and see how well it holds up. That said, if you were to write off everything said by any entity that ever hired a PR person as a complete fabrication and a pack of lies, you'd be a ridiculous g*ddamn idiot. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and once every other month or so, even the Republican Party has got a point.

Oh, and since you referred to the independent Afghan NGO Security Office's statement saying "pay attention to us, not the DoD, as they aren't entirely straightforward with you as to just how dangerous this sh*t can get...", let's check in with them to see what they're currently saying, shall we?!

"LATEST QUARTERLY REPORT, Q2 2012

By the end of June, AOG (enemy) initiated attacks had decreased by 38% compared to the first six months of 2011, ANSF‐IMF activity levels had decreased collectively by 25%, and the total number of NGO security incidents had fallen by 17%. . . we remain 'cautious optimists' for the future. . . the deescalation experienced at Q2 is an encouraging trend, and one that can achieve more than the protracted fighting achieved so far, that de-legitimize the conflict by removing the primary mobilization factor - the presence of armed foreigners of any kind."


Yes, there is a war still going on, but it's a less hot war, in large part because an increasing amount of Afghanistan is overseen by Afghan forces. This war is basically going away with a whimper, but what will be left behind is a surprisingly strong Afghan army, and a government that isn't as prone to dogmatic intolerance as the Taliban.

Don't get me wrong... I think it's a great thing, in a sense, that so many people are ideologically opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Makes me wonder where they were back in 2001 before we sent in the troops, though. I certainly don't want US troops in Afghanistan any longer than they need to be. But at the same time, I don't want a power vacuum that gives the Taliban and Al Qaeda free reign either, with Afghan reformers and women politicians stoned in the street, and schools for female children closed down.

If you want a good view of this conflict and its ramifications, it helps to be objective, to depersonalize the situation in your mind, and rto eally look at the statistics and the flow of the conflict involved. Just because you are ideologically opposed to a war, it doesn't follow that the conflict is "unwinnable" by some reasonable definition, or that it would be better for all concerned if the troops were to immediately leave.
posted by markkraft at 12:49 PM on September 20, 2012


As of today, the last of the 33,000 US soldiers that comprise the Afghanistan surge have departed for home, slightly more than a week ahead of schedule.
posted by markkraft at 9:02 AM on September 21, 2012


So you're a partisan...good to know. Listen you can keep spinning this all you want, but we are not winning any war in Afghanistan. Let's talk about this again in 2014 and see where things stand. Now that the Obama administration has proven the new drone strategy I doubt we will see the U.S. army being used to invade countries any time soon. Shadow war is the new normal I'm afraid.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:11 PM on September 21, 2012


China and Afghanistan sign security deal
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:46 AM on September 23, 2012


August ‘second deadliest month’ for Afghan civilians: UN
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2012


Military’s Own Report Card Gives Afghan Surge an F
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dammit homunculus I was just gonna link that same article.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:45 AM on September 28, 2012


U.S. Soldier Survives Taliban Machine Gun Fire During Firefight
posted by homunculus at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2012


China and Afghanistan sign security deal

Related post.
posted by homunculus at 10:34 AM on September 28, 2012


If that's the video I'm thinking of, homunculus, it should be re-titled 'US Soldier fails to properly employ weapon, doesn't die.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:24 PM on September 28, 2012


Latest 'Insider' Attack Marks 2,000th U.S. Death in Afghan War
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on September 30, 2012


Kings of War - All Politics And Civil War Is Local: Helmland's Micro-Conflicts
In the latest issue of the West Point Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel, I have a new article: ‘The Micro Level of Civil War: The Case of Central Helmand Province‘ (pdf). I wrote this article as a reaction against the way that civil wars and Afghanistan in particular are commonly depicted in the media, by our political leaders, and by senior military officers. The narrative of the war in Afghanistan has NATO’s International Security Assistance Force on the side of the Afghan state against the Taliban and Haqqani Network. When I worked in Helmand as a member of a Human Terrain Team, I saw how Afghan politics – both violent and non-violent – was driven by the aggregation of what I called ‘micro-conflicts,’ – localised and enduring conflicts and rivalries. Most were not choosing sides and fighting based on the causes of the Taliban or the government. Rather, their primary motivations seemed to revolve around decades-old factionalism, land and water disputes, and competition over the narcotics trade.
CSMonitor - Another Insider? Uniformed Afghan Suicide Bomber Kills 14
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 AM on October 2, 2012


A senior Afghan army general visited Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss alleged Pakistani shelling across the mountainous border that has heightened tensions between the two neighbours,
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:56 AM on October 5, 2012


Registan.net: Afghanistan's Future
To concur with Foust’s most recent post, the outlook for Afghanistan is grim. The surge, unfortunately, did not work as it was supposed to, and partnership efforts are a bloody mess. According to Gilles Dorronsoro’s recent paper, Waiting for the Taliban in Afghanistan (well worth a read), “The Afghanistan regime will most probably collapse in a few years.” It does not get much clearer than that. Former General Barno’s comments in Foreign Policy recently indicate that the American administration might be considering Afghanistan lost as well; if the government in Kabul will not be able to secure the country in any meaningful way past 2014, and the voters won’t consider a larger troop presence or a mission-extension, why not push for an accelerated withdrawal? Most of the major ISAF troop-contributing nations have talked openly of early withdrawal, and the American (voting) public isn’t keen on prolonging their troop presence in Afghanistan, either.
Wall Street Journal: US and Afghans Exchange Gunfire

Afghan officials said Sunday that a Taliban rocket landed near U.S. troops on patrol Saturday afternoon in eastern Wardak province. In response, they said, American forces—thinking they had come under attack from Afghan troops—fired on a nearby Afghan army post. The Afghan army returned fire, resulting in a fierce gunbattle that lasted about 10 minutes, officials said.

The U.S.-led coalition in Kabul acknowledged that insurgent fire was involved in the attack but didn't confirm or deny whether U.S. forces opened up on the Afghan army first. "After a short conversation took place between [Afghan army] and [coalition] personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of a [coalition] soldier and the death of his civilian colleague. In an ensuing exchange of fire, three [Afghan army] personnel are reported to have died," a coalition statement read.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:39 AM on October 7, 2012


Small Wars Journal: Approaches To Effective Service In Afghanistan
These considerations which I have formed over that time shape my approach to Afghanistan particularly with respect to our current efforts. Much of what is offered here can be applied equally to approaching any other foreign society. Nothing about Afghans makes them more (or less) perplexing or inscrutable than any other people, ourselves included. The challenges we face in comprehending Afghanistan rest with us, not the Afghans. My intent here is not to offer a specific right knowledge set. Rather, my aim is to highlight what I have found to be some important topics that are distorted by flawed assumptions and misunderstandings or are not being given adequate attention. Persons seeking to play a constructive role in Afghanistan, even at this late stage in our exertions there, may find these approaches useful.

posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:33 AM on October 8, 2012


Afghanistan 'sliding towards collapse': Afghan forces are far from ready to secure a country riddled with violence and corruption, Red Cross and thinktank warn
posted by homunculus at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2012


Living with death by drone
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:00 PM on October 8, 2012


Taliban says it shot ‘infidel’ Pakistani teen for advocating girls’ rights

Interview with 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by Taliban
posted by homunculus at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2012


Afghans Sold U.S. Troops Bogus Bomb Protection
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2012


A Marine's perspective on Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 'Little America'
Yet this is only the start of the many problems Chandrasekaran highlights in Little America. After more than a decade of war, interagency cooperation still was not working effectively. It seemed that almost every participating agency at every level was disagreeing on how to fight or end the war in Afghanistan. Disagreements and fighting even occurred between the National Security Council and Richard Holbrooke, the senior diplomat tasked with brokering a peace deal. Hundreds of millions of dollars were being wasted on unsustainable projects that the Afghans did not need and could not sustain.

Throughout Little America, Chandrasekaran shows how the bureaucracy and utter breakdown in civil-military operations limited the few effective leaders in both the State Department and the military. Yet these few leaders who saw the futility of the misguided American efforts in Afghanistan were unable to change very little outside their own Afghan districts. Washington was too slow to adapt and the internal rivalries handicapped a cohesive whole-of-government approach.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:15 PM on October 11, 2012


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