Afghanistan: Is Peace Near?

After 18 years of constant war and multiple deployments the US is looking at the peace process taking shape…..

The US gets bad press worldwide…..the American propaganda machine we call the MSM does not pile on….but the news is not good for America…..like the number of civilian deaths……

According to UN officials, the 2018 civilian death toll in Afghanistan was a record high, with 3,804 killed and another 7,189 wounded. This was an approximately 11% increase over the previous year, and the highest annual figure since the UN began keeping track in 2009.

The report concluded that both an increase in suicide attacks, mainly from ISIS, and a sharp increase in US airstrikes were driving the record deaths, with over 1,000 casualties just from US air operations.

The Taliban were blamed for the largest number of civilian casualties, at 37%, which is in keeping with UN reports of the past. The Afghan government, US, and NATO were blamed for 24%, and ISIS was blamed for a further 20%. This is a huge number of ISIS killings given how comparatively small the group is.

The UN said a particularly concerning fact was that the civilian casualties from US airstrikes were overwhelmingly women and children. This, however, should be unsurprising, as the US tends to define adult men in Afghanistan as “suspects” or “militants” simply by virtue of being in a strike.

(antiwar.com)

With those numbers rising the parties involved are meeting and discussing an end to the hostilities……

A new round of negotiations on Afghanistan has begun on Monday in the Qatari capital city. A delegation of US diplomats and top Taliban figures, including deputy Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, are present for what is sure to be the highest level of talks yet.

18+ years into the US war in Afghanistan, they’ve gone from the Taliban denying negotiations were even taking place, to confirming they are. Progress is now being confirmed by both sides, with a basic framework of a war-ending deal in place.

That deal, specifics not-withstanding, are that the US would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, and the Taliban would ensure that neither al-Qaeda nor ISIS could operate inside of the country in the future.

Having Mullah Baradar and US negotiator head Zalmay Khalilzad sitting across the table from one another only underscores how serious the talks are getting, and this latest round of talks is expected to continue hammering out specific details.

(antiwar.com)

I read dissertation papers that grad students submit and this one covers the “Long War” in Afghanistan and the possibility of a peaceful settlement…..

During the last week of January, the news was awash with stories covering the current administration’s ostensibly unprecedented progress with Special Envoy Khalilzad’s recent talks with the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors in Qatar. In a statement that the U.S. Embassy Kabul released on the last Monday in January, Khalilzad stated that the peace talks had made progress on important issues and that the negotiators had agreed on a framework for further talks in February. In the eighteenth year of a long and stalemated war, there are reasons to be sanguine about these developments, to some degree, simply because this seems to have been the most talk about peace among the belligerents yet in this long hard war. And Mr. Khalilzad is indeed one of the best people to be the U.S. envoy leading the talks given his Afghan origins and years of experience as ambassador in Afghanistan and Iraq

However, there are also reasons for much caution and some alarm about the current progress and the potential for peace in Afghanistan since the deliberations and decisions about many previously intractable issues still require prudence and patience.  These details may potentially augur the gravest consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbors, and the U.S. Several things of great importance have yet to be worked out. There is still much uncertainty in what outcomes these talks will result in, and looming yet elusive peace also brings up questions and concerns about the Taliban’s and their sponsor’s true intentions.

This could be good news….or it could be just a lull in a continuing situation….

light at the end of an excruciatingly long tunnel, the prospect of American withdrawal from Afghanistan now seems to glimmer ahead. Several rounds of negotiation in Russia, Qatar, and elsewhere have produced the outlines of an agreement. Details are unknown, but by all accounts, the accord will be based around a simple deal: the United States pulls its troops out and the Taliban pledges to never again host terror groups.

This would be a most un-American peace deal. Rather than a declaration of victory, it would be a reluctant acceptance of stubborn facts on the ground. Afghans repelled British invaders in the 19th century and Soviet invaders in the 20th. For nearly two decades they have held the United States at bay. By leaving Afghanistan to its fate, we would be admitting failure. This horrifies many in Washington. Americans fervently embrace the illusion that their country can succeed at anything — including crushing mountain fighters thousands of miles away who believe they are patriots resisting a foreigner invader.

https://outline.com/RwCTAB

I wish I could see this as a good thing for the people of Afghanistan….but I cannot….the Taleban when returned to power will revert to their extreme shelf…..a restrictive form of Islam will once again rule the land….

Afghanistan has another worry….the hostilities between India and Pakistan…..there is a possibility that hostilities could spill over into Afghanistan….

Fearing a dangerous spillover impacts from increased tensions between India and Pakistan, war-ravaged Afghanistan has advised its nuclear-armed neighbors to exercise the utmost restraint.

On Wednesday, February 27, the Pakistan Air Force claimed to have shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace, a day after India said it struck hideouts of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group – responsible for a deadly suicide attack in Kashmir– inside Pakistan.

India blames Pakistan-based JeM for killing more than 40 Indian security forces in the troubled Kashmir valley on February 14.

https://thedefensepost.com/2019/02/28/afghanistan-india-pakistan-spillover/

The only good thing is that American troops will come home and get the rest they richly deserve.

Let’s say that a peace plan is negotiated……what does that mean to US troops?

Ongoing US-Taliban peace negotiations, designed to end the 18-year Afghan War, has a new proposal, with the Pentagon having finally offered a formal plan for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan.

As with the usual Pentagon plans, there seems to be reticence toward actually doing this in a timely fashion. The plan reportedly would have half of the 14,000 US troops leaves Afghanistan within a matter of months, but then the rest would stay for as long as five years.

The end of the five years would see not only all US troops out of Afghanistan, but also NATO troops. It is said to enjoy support within NATO and among administration officials. It’s not clear what the Taliban’s position is, however.

And that might be a tough sell for the Taliban. After resisting a US occupation for 18 years, the Taliban’s demand is to get the US out of the country, and while the logistics of that might take awhile, five years is a very long time.

If anything, such a long time is likely to raise fears that the Pentagon is dragging its feet specifically to give officials time to change their minds and dishonor the deal, and keeping thousands of troops inside Afghanistan means Trump, or his successor, could end up resuming the war.

(antiwar.com)

US troops are the key to any peace deal with the Taleban…..

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Qatar, told reporters in Qatar that the war will come to an end in the country and the Taliban fighters will join the ranks of the Afghan army if the two sides sealed an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

He said talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government is an internal issue and that Taliban is currently carrying out talks with the US about troop withdrawal.

“When the occupation is ended, there is a full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and there is an Afghan-inclusive Islamic government in the country, I think there is no need for any military operation and war. So, there will be a sustainable peace in the country and all the military people and our people, they will be included in a national army,” said Shaheen.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/taliban-sees-troop-withdrawal-key-peace

Appears as troops are the main condition for peace in Afghanistan….

I say bring ’em home!

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The Growing Hate

By the title one might surmise that this post is about the tensions between races or religions or whatever else us humans attempt to hate……well if so….you would be mistaken.

I have been writing and attempt to teach people about war and its complexities and in that time I have also been an antiwar activist and because I have been such I have hated those we call “Neocons”….or if you prefer “warmongers”….or if you would like a more political correct title….”hawks”……

Since 9/11 it has been out of fashion to hate these people because they are keeping us “safe” from another attack by taking the fight to the terrorists. Since those days slowly but slowly the US has expanded its reach with war all in the name of fighting terrorists…..this overreach was sold to the people by the MSM with their constant drumming of propaganda….

But I can glad announce that the “old days” seem to be returning (at least for others…… for I never stopped hating)…..the public is starting to wake up to the reach of the M-IC and the propaganda of the MSM……

American Conservative has published an article titled “Why Are These Professional War Peddlers Still Around?”, an excerpt from a book by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, which documents neoconservative thought leaders Max Boot and Bill Kristol’s consistent track record of supporting spectacularly awful US war policies. Carlson goes over the many, many acts of military interventionism which have been pushed for by these two legendary failmeisters, documents what they predicted would happen as the result of that interventionism (freedom, democracy and prosperity) and what actually ended up happening instead (needless death, terrorism and chaos), and marvels at how they both somehow remain in positions of high esteem with high-profile, high-paying jobs.

The article was shared today on Twitter by Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, who commented that Carlson “offers a devastating critique [of] interventionism and shows how much of the foreign policy establishment has failed the American people. There is an emerging, left right coalition of common sense for a foreign policy of restraint.”

 
I am an old fart but it is good to see a trend developing to maybe check the expansion of our many many wars.
 
We can only hope.

Space: Where No One Hears You Scream

I am one of the few people posting on the possibility of the creation of a new branch of the military……a Space Force or Corps. I am watching because I want to know how it will be funded and what services will suffer to do so.

Trump will soon approve the creation of this “Force”……

President Donald Trump will sign a directive on Tuesday to establish a new branch of the military dedicated to space but instead of being a fully independent department it will remain part of the Air Force to assuage concerns in Congress, a senior administration official told POLITICO.

The presidential directive, formally called Space Policy Directive 4, will set the groundwork for a subsequent legislative proposal for Congress, which will have the final say over what has been a signature military objective since Trump announced his intentions nearly a year ago.

 
DoD to request funds for the Space Force HQ as a starting point……
 

The Defense Department is expected to request approximately $270 million in its fiscal year 2020 budget to stand up a Space Force headquarters, a Space Development Agency and U.S. Space Command, according to draft documents.

The amount is modest compared to multibillion-dollar estimates that have been floated in the past several months. The 2020 request would cover the cost of setting up the Space Development Agency, U.S. Space Command and the Space Force headquarters — if and when Congress authorizes the establishment of the new branch. The Pentagon projects that the Space Force budget will increase over the next several years due to mission demands.

https://spacenews.com/pentagon-budget-proposal-funds-space-force-headquarters-as-a-starting-point/

If we are to have this unneeded Space Force then why are experts silent?

The last time the United States considered the creation of a new military service, there was an extensive debate within the military departments, Congress and the public sphere. Airpower’s great advocates, with names like Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, and Tooey Spaatz became established in the collective zeitgeist long before war-time exploits or Air Force base names would inscribe them more permanently to history.

There was an expectation that military members, as public servants and the experts on various forms of warfare, would have a voice in informing the debate. However, the ultimate decision to create an independent air force would be a political one. All service members, constitutionally beholden to civilian control, would then be expected to unquestioningly comply.  

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/429665-in-the-space-force-debate-the-militarys-space-experts-are-missing

There is so much BS swirling around this issue…..it is difficult to see who wants it and who is against it…..the one thing for sure….it will cost money we do not have.

Finally!  We now know why we need a “Space Force”…..Gay aliens!

Making a major announcement at the Pentagon on Thursday, Vice-President Mike Pence said that the proposed United States Space Force was necessary to defend the U.S. from gay aliens.

“I stand before you today to say that this country is under attack from outer-space gays,” Pence told the military gathering. “Only Space Force can protect us from their unimaginable evil.”

Pence detailed a nightmare scenario in which “gay aliens by the thousands” land in the U.S. in “seemingly cute spacecraft” and “subvert life in America as we know it.”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/pence-calls-space-force-necessary-to-protect-us-from-gay-aliens

SERIOUSLY!  READ THAT FROM OUR MENTAL MIDGET VP!

I glad to know that Trump will protect us from those damn “gay aliens”……how about you?

What price stupid?

National Security Crisis

Here we go!

It seems everyone has a national security crisis they want to champion…..and each one helps DoD rape the Treasury of funds.

Just another justification for more money, more money, more money…….

The National Defense Strategy Commission began as a congressional panel to review America’s national defense strategy. It turned into yet another justification for ever-greater military spending. In the panel’s view, America is weak, isolated, beleaguered, and endangered. Unless military spending is greatly increased, Washington will lose its ability to run the world and a new dark age will envelop the earth.

Indeed, the barbarians are already at the gates. Complained the NDSC: “The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades.”

That, alas, is to be expected since “America’s military superiority—the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security—has eroded to a dangerous degree.” Foreign conquest may be just one battle away. “Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains,” the NDSC says. Not just China and Russia, but Cuba and Venezuela. What is a superpower to do?

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/congress-creates-a-commission-to-justify-military-waste/

NO MORE!

Please….it is time for the Congress to help check the Pentagon budget.

Granted it will be hard especially with so many Congresspeople on the payroll of the defense contractors.

The US can NO longer afford more wars they cannot afford the ones they fight now.

War is good business!

The United States has now been continuously at war for more than seventeen years. It is still fighting an active war in Afghanistan, has yet to fully defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq – much less establish a state of lasting security in either country – and is playing a role in low level conflicts against extremist and terrorists in many other parts of the world.

The U.S. government, however, has never developed a convincing method of reporting on the cost of the wars, and its estimates are a confusing morass of different and conflicting Departmental, Agency, and other government reporting that leave major gaps in key areas during FY2001-FY2019.

It has never provided useful forecasts of future cost, instead providing empty “placeholder” numbers or none. It has failed to find any useful way to tie the cost estimates it does release to its level of military and civil activity in each conflict or found any way to measure the effectiveness of its expenditures or tie them to a credible strategy to achieve some form of victory.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/americas-military-spending-and-uncertain-costs-its-wars-need-transparent-reporting

DoD is looking to ask Congress for even more funds…..”war” funds…….

The U.S. Defense Department is planning to ask Congress for a massive increase to a controversial war account often criticized as a “slush fund” in order to circumvent mandatory spending limits, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the discussions.

The increase would amount to a reversal for President Donald Trump’s White House budget director, former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who for years campaigned against what he saw as former President Barack Obama’s abuse of the account, calling it a “slush fund.” After he was tapped for the job, Mulvaney told Senate lawmakers that he would seek to eliminate the fund altogether.

https://outline.com/VpU9ga

Like I said…..the price is too damn high!

AMERICANS…….. speak up…..Enough Is Enough!

Where Is Afghanistan?

I heard the question asked when I was eating a gyros in a cafe….the guy was about 20 and his question just made me frown……how could this be?

So I guess I have been missing the point on all my writing…

So I keep trying……

Is our efforts in Afghanistan really helping the people gain some form of security?

A nighttime raid left a family home in flames. Two brothers and one of their wives were executed on the spot; the woman shot three times in the head. A little girl, just three years old, was found burned to death in a bedroom.

The scene might be at home in the erstwhile Soviet Union or a gang-run region of El Salvador today, but it is Afghanistan. And the raiding party was not communist secret police or a drug lord’s foot soldiers but an Afghan strike team managed by the CIA.

These teams have for many Afghans become the public face of the United States’ 18-year intervention, and the teams’ brutality toward civilians has made that face an ugly one. An extensive New York Times investigation uncovered stories of shocking violence against innocent people, a carelessness which makes the strike forces’ effectiveness look less like precision targeting than a shotgun spray hitting everything that moves, militants sometimes included.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/01/21/americas_war_in_afghanistan_fostering_anger_not_security_114123.html

Trump has said that we are fighting endless wars (I agree)….so there are rumblings that the US and the current Afghan government are in talks with the Taleban….should we trust the Taleban?

Reports from Washington suggest that US President Donald Trump is pushing for a quick military withdrawal from Afghanistan and that the defence establishment is attempting to reduce the number of troops pulled out and the speed of the withdrawal. However, given Trump’s maverick decision-making style, a US departure is likely to happen sooner rather than later.

It’s imperative that any analysis of the future of Afghanistan factor in the variable of Pashtun nationalism now primarily represented, even if in distorted fashion, by a resurgent Taliban. What has given the Taliban’s appeal potency is their ability to couch in religious terminology traditional Pashtun aspirations for dominance in Afghanistan and the tribes’ aversion to foreign interference.

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/pashtun-nationalism-and-the-american-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/

Are the Taleban trustworthy?

US needs to find an exit point….maybe it is time to trust the Taleban if it brings our weary troops home.

But I think that the US needs to come to term with the fact that they failed in Afghanistan……

The United States failed in Afghanistan. The only points of debate left for analysts and historians are by how much and who is to blame. With negotiations and withdrawal plans still in the air as of early 2019, nearly 18 years after September 11, 2001, the true extent of American failure remains to be determined, but it is not too early to examine where our institutions and leaders fell short.

Over the course of the war in Afghanistan, pundits have laid the blame at the feet of successive administrations. The arguments were that President George W. Bush was distracted by Iraq, that President Barack Obama gave a timeline that allowed the Taliban to “wait out” the efforts of coalition forces, and that President Donald Trump simply does not have a strategy. Each of these critiques may hold some truth to them and ultimately the commander in chief is responsible for the execution of American foreign policy, but unexamined in these critiques is the limiting factor of American military capabilities.

https://warontherocks.com/2019/02/coming-to-terms-with-americas-undeniable-failure-in-afghanistan/

Face it!  Afghanistan is just not worth it anymore!

Will it end?  Can it end?

President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” It was a clear signal that his administration has scaled back its objectives for Afghanistan and is headed for the exit. The only question now is whether the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors will settle for a partial victory by participating in an Afghan government they do not wholly control, or whether they will bide their time until the occupation ends, then turn on those Afghans who have been fighting alongside U.S. forces and triumphantly return to power, governing as they did before the war.

The smart money is on the latter.

Trump is not the first American president to try to bring a “forever war” to an end. President Barack Obama promised to end the war in Iraq, and he did. But America’s adversaries there took the opportunity to reconstitute a threat significant enough that Obama had to reengage.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/how-end-war-afghanistan/582310/

This is a glimmer of hope for us that want this war to end….no matter what!

But I refuse to believe that these toads in DC really want to end this war.

FLASH! Troops Coming Home!

But first did you see the major news story on Sunday?  Prince Philip will give up his drivers license ….Seriously? This is the best the MSM can do? Now there is a story that NO ONE gives a sh*t about!

Sorry let’s talk troops.

There has been a back and forth about our troops in Syria….prez sez they come home…..DOD sez maybe but not now…..prez sez there is no time table…..DOD sez…………..

More news (but it could change before I finish typing) about our weary troops in Syria…..

The most specificity any officials have offered on the US plan for Syria, Pentagon officials confirmed Thursday that the current in-military timeline is to have all US troops out of the country by the end of April.

Officials confirmed this could be altered by policy changes in the future, but that for now the intention is to withdraw a significant number of the forces by mid-March, and the rest by the end of April.

The State Department was quick to contradict on this matter, saying that there is no timeline for withdrawing from Syria, and that the US is still committed to protecting the Kurdish YPG, and expelling all Iranian troops from Syria.

The White House did not directly comment on this matter, but it seems that the military is not interpreting Trump’s call for an “orderly pullout” as an excuse for an indefinite delay, while the State Department is still waiting for further changes in policy before admitting that troops are leaving.

This may, for the administration, prove to be the best of both worlds, as it allows the Pentagon to carry out the withdrawal that Trump ordered in December, while everyone else keeps up the pretense that nothing is finalized.

This is good news if it is true…..but it is also a chance that it is a con job like everything else this president does.  (I admit that I do not like or trust Trump but I do agree with his plan to bring the troops home)

Now ask….why is Congress dead set against the troop withdrawal?

In Syria Washington chose to enter a civil war of minimal security concern to America. Syria was allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Washington’s previous forays in similarly imploding Middle Eastern nations—Lebanon and Libya—turned out badly. The executive branch concocted ever more outlandish duties for American military personnel: extirpate ISIS, exclude Iran, confront Russia, pacify Turkey, protect Kurds, and pressure Damascus. Yet Congress never voted on the continual usurpation of legislative power.
Members also sat like potted plants as presidents illegally made war in Libya, Syria, and Yemen and threatened to unilaterally strike Iran, North Korea, and now Venezuela. Legislators preferred to avoid committing themselves. If the ensuing conflict goes well, then they will applaud the president; if it goes badly, then they will criticize his impetuous incompetence. They routinely refuse to live up to their constitutional responsibilities, unless forced to do, as when President Barack Obama tossed the issue of bombing Syria to Congress.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/capitol-hill-cowards-why-congress-trying-undermine-trumps-troop

The news is that the last stronghold for ISIS is under attack and the battle is going well……soon all the territory lost to ISIS will be retaken……(lost territory does not mean the group is defeated)…..

But Syria is a history of lousy excuses……

When former president Barack Obama authorized the invasion and occupation of Syria in 2015, he did so in complete defiance of both US and international law. Congress had not then declared war on Syria and has not since then offered any formal legal basis for Obama’s actions. And since Syria is a United Nations member state which has never attacked the US nor indicated any intent to do so, the invasion/occupation constitutes a war of aggression – “the supreme international crime,” as Nuremberg Tribunal judge Norman Birkett called it.

Despite the complete absence of any compelling military or political reason for invading and occupying Syria, and despite the complete illegality of that invasion and occupation, these Senators believe that Trump should reverse his decision and keep US troops at risk in a land whether they’re neither needed nor welcome.

After all, if US troops aren’t there, US troops can’t be killed there, and US troops need to be killed there every once in a while to justify keeping them there in perpetuity. The Senators’ campaign donors in the “defense” industry need them kept there. Government contracts and stock dividends depend on it!

That’s the caliber of mind and morality the voters of South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island send to Washington, DC. Can’t say I blame the voters for wanting those guys to go somewhere, anywhere other than South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, or Rhode Island. If nothing else it probably raises those states’ average IQs and reduces their petty crime rates.

(antiwar.com)

Syria has been a cluster fuck for decades and Obama onward did nothing to change that…..PERIOD!

All Those Wars!

We have a couple of wars that most have no dear why any longer.

A couple months ago Trump said troops would be leaving Syria and a partial draw down for Afghanistan…….and the Neo cons went batcrap crazy with the MSM joining into the chorus….

Trump then stepped back from his pronouncements.

Having drifted back and forth a few times on the US withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, President Trump seemed solid on leaving last week, but facing growing opposition from the Senate now shows signs of backtracking once again.

Previously talking up how the wars in Afghanistan and Syria can’t last forever, Trump is now saying he wants a “smaller number” of troops to stay in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban already making it clear that was a non-starter for the peace deal.

In Syria, Trump is now focused on the idea that the pullout can only happen after assuring that “Israel is protected,” which is as close to a recipe for permanent warfare as one can get. Israeli officials have made clear they want the war to be about Iran, not ISIS.

https://news.antiwar.com/2019/02/03/trump-backtracks-on-syria-afghan-withdrawals-facing-growing-senate-pressure/

Then Trump had a SOTU where he taunted the ending of use less wars….

The Congress seems to be a big obstacle for the president……instead of caving to the warmongers in Congress he should push back on the cowardice…..

Who says Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on anything? Washington closed ranks Thursday behind two wars President Donald Trump has proposed winding down as the Senate voted 68-23 to advance a resolution warning against “precipitous withdrawal” from Afghanistan and Syria.

Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, making any withdrawal seem anything but “precipitous.” Syria hasn’t even been authorized by Congress. In both cases, our men and women in the armed forces have already achieved the goals that are militarily attainable. “It doesn’t get much more pathetic,” Congressman Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, said of the Senate vote.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-should-call-congresss-bluff-on-our-endless-wars/