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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Peace For Afghanistan?

After close to 18 years of US involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan there is a rumble of a possible peace within the country.

Personally, I say about damn time….what took so long?

An op-ed that appeared in Truthdig…….

It has been more than nine years since I resigned in protest over the escalation of the Afghan War from my position as a Political Officer with the US State Department in Afghanistan. It had been my third time to war, along with several years of working in positions effecting war policy in Washington, DC with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department. My resignation in 2009 was not taken lightly by my superiors and my reasons for opposing President Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan found support amongst both military officers and civilian officials at senior levels in Kabul and Washington.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/15/time-for-peace-in-afghanistan-

and-an-end-to-the-lies/

Peace may be a pipe dream for Afghanistan….but with that said what would it take to get peace for Afghanistan?

Peace may be offering…the legislative body of Afghanistan, the Jirga, will be meeting to discuss peace talks….

Afghan politicians and tribal, ethnic, and religious leaders are set to meet for at least four days next month to discuss negotiations with the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani’s special peace envoy has said.

Daudzai said that the consultative Loya Jirga will discuss the government’s “values and red lines” and will aim to come up with a framework for the Western-backed government in Kabul to engage in peace negotiations with the militant group.

https://www.rferl.org/amp/afghan-loya-jirga-to-convene-next-month-to-discuss-peace-talks/29781362.html

Constant military surveillance of Afghans yields almost no real intelligence about the problems they face each day. An unusual group of volunteers uses a far different approach.

 

 

Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family home in Kabul. When they were discovered, one of the robbers stabbed Hossein.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/15/what-it-really-takes-to-secure-peace-in-afghanistan/

I have been calling for an end for this madness…of course I am just a small voice in the wilderness but at least now there are more people seeing the need for an end to the war in Afghanistan for now all we are doing is throwing people and cash into a hole that will NEVER fill.

Give peace a chance….you might like it!

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.

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/

 

Afghanistan: Why And Why?

WTF?

It is 0300 hrs (3 am civilian time) and I have been staring into the void of American foreign policy. And the worst case scenario is the situation in Afghanistan. Why is this taking so long?

Good question that few have an answer for when asked.

Then I found one that tries to justify this war…..

When I first learned about the Thirty Years War in a history class in college, I was both fascinated and amazed. How in the world could a war go on for 30 years? That just seemed incomprehensible to me.

Not anymore. The U.S. war on Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years. And if the American people follow the advice of Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it’s a virtual certainty that the United States will easily surpass the Thirty Years War and, maybe, the Hundred Years War, which needless to say, also amazed and fascinated me when I learned about its existence.

I can just see Americans 83 years from now breaking the 100-year-war record and exclaiming in celebration, “We’re Number One! We’re Number One! KAG! KAG! Keep America Great!”

https://www.fff.org/2019/01/25/justifying-the-17-year-war/

Most of us questioners see the Afghanistan situation as just another Vietnam……

Senator George Aiken is famously misquoted as recommending that the United States “declare victory and get out” as a way of ending the war in Vietnam. In practice, the United States did something very different. It bombed North Vietnam into agreeing to a peace settlement, claimed that a rushed “Vietnamization” campaign gave South Vietnam a government and military forces capable of securing the country, and then pulled United States forces out of South Vietnam.

Any summary of what happened next has to be grossly oversimplified, but even a brief summary still sounds important warnings about the current United States policies in Afghanistan. The U.S left South Vietnam with a hollow, unstable and corrupt “democratic” government in charge. It left a country with serious economic problems the moment United States military spending and high aid levels were cut, and it left a country torn apart by deep divisions between its ruling class and its Buddhist clergy.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/afghanistan-vietnam-redux-bomb-declare-peace-and-leave

A case could be made that the US had a right to retaliate against AQ in Afghanistan…….but why not use the most effective tactic….Bomb…..Declare a win…..Go Home?

Now the saddest part of this 17 year war is that for the most part the American public has all but forgotten this “war”…….

Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.

Using Iraq as a jump-off point, they would knock off regime after regime, running up the stars and stripes as they went, and then watch as peace and prosperity unfolded like a desert blossom. That cauldron of seemingly endless conflict would soon become a happy democratic paradise filled to bursting with McDonald’s customers tying the laces of their new Nike sneakers with fingers stained purple from voting. All the wild boys needed was a catalyst, a “new Pearl Harbor,” to get the ball rolling. When the Towers came down, they took their shot, and we were off to the races.

https://truthout.org/articles/after-17-years-of-war-afghanistan-is-all-but-forgotten/

War does not make sense any longer…..with that statement I do agree…..

America spends more on its military than all its enemies put together yet it still can’t win wars. Failed adventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have drained America’s power and diminished its prestige. The bloated Pentagon budget actually makes us weaker.

Here’s the weird bit: nobody seems to care. If any other government department spent as much and accomplished as little, the populace would be in arms, complaining about wasteful government spending. Instead we mumble “Thank you for your service” and increase defense appropriations.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/war-doesnt-make-sense-anymore/

Congress needs to step up and do what is required….end this “war” and bring our troops home for the rest they richly deserve.

For those interested…..further reading……

http://www.unz.com/emargolis/americas-shameful-war/

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/america-knows-it-cannot-win-afghanistan%E2%80%94so-why-keep-fighting-42327

What Of Afghanistan?

We have heard that Trump wants all the troops home from Syria and half the troops from Afghanistan…..but what about this Afghan thing?  Is it a necessity?

One of the primary problems with our endless debates over (seemingly) endless American conflicts with jihadists overseas is that we rarely go back to first principles. We rarely take a step back and accurately define our strategic and tactical challenge. We don’t do this in debates between pundits, and we don’t do it in public arguments. Instead, all too often we resort to sloganeering and sniping, with serious pieces like those of my colleagues Andy McCarthy and Michael Brendan Dougherty (who disagree, by the way, with my counsel to stay in Syria) the welcome exceptions to the dreary rule.

Moreover, there is a distressing tendency to sweep together the last several Republican and Democratic administrations as if they’re all part of the same foreign-policy establishment that tries to do the same things the same way and then falls prey to the same temptations to turn to American military force as a first resort in the face of persistent Middle Eastern challenges. In reality, however, different approaches have confronted a series of difficult realities, and those realities have necessitated military intervention.

Let’s analyze our challenge as clearly and concisely as we can.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/the-frustrating-necessity-of-staying-in-syria-and-afghanistan-explained/

AS it is there are many that are agonizing our continuing stay in Afghanistan….and the voices are getting louder…..

After more than 17 years, the time has come to accept two important truths about the war in Afghanistan. The first is that there will be no military victory by the government and its American and NATO partners. Afghan forces, while better than they were, are not good enough and are unlikely ever to be capable of defeating the Taliban. This is not simply because government troops lack the unity and often the professionalism to prevail, but also because the Taliban are highly motivated and enjoy considerable backing at home and from Pakistan, which provides them critical support and sanctuary.

The second truth is that peace negotiations are unlikely to work. Talks have taken place on and off over the years, but diplomacy is never far removed from facts and trends on the ground. Both work against a negotiated settlement.

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/agonising-over-afghanistan/

With all that said the question becomes….should Trump withdraw fro Afghanistan?

Almost immediately after President Trump directed the Pentagon withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, he ordered a reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan—more than 7,000 soldiers, which is about half of the current force. Given the hysterical reaction of Washington’s foreign policy establishment about the president’s Syria decision, there will certainly be an even more shrill “the sky is falling” chorus regarding Afghanistan. But whatever one thinks of the president’s temperament, his management style, and the decision-making process (or lack thereof), his decision about Syria was the right thing to do, and so is his decision to pull back in Afghanistan. After more than 17 years, it’s well past time to wind down America’s longest war.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/should-trump-withdraw-from-afghanistan

Finally let’s look at the cost of withdrawing from Afghanistan…..

First it was Syria, then came Afghanistan. Two days ago, President Trump shocked the foreign policy community by announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, wrongly claiming the Islamic State has been defeated. Within the last 24 hours, reports have emerged that the US military will quickly pull nearly half of its forces from Afghanistan, and likely withdraw the rest by the end of 2019.

Trump’s decision is unsurprising to us. We’ve reported since October that the order to withdraw from Afghanistan could come at any time.

Many are celebrating the move, pointing to the length of the conflict (17 years), the enormous sunk cost and the inability of the Afghan government to stand on its own. Careful readers of this website will note that we have been critical of the war effort, and especially the rosy rhetoric employed by US military officials. We could easily pen another biting critique of the US-led war.

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/12/analysis-the-costs-of-withdrawal-from-afghanistan.php

My thought is……screw all the BS declare mission over and bring the troops home….they need a rest….anything else is just wasting money and soldiers for little gain…..a Law of Diminishing Returns……

“Zach” Beale–R.I.P.

One of the saddest post I write are those of our fallen service people protecting our nation across the world….22Jan19 another US servicemen has been killed in Afghanistan….

SFC Joshua Beale KIA Afghanistan January 2019

SFC Joshua Beale, age 32, died on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Joshua Beale, succumbed to wounds sustained from small arms fire. He was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Beale – who was also known as “Zach” – was a native of Carrollton, Virginia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University in 2008.

Beale is survived by his wife and two children .

WE at IST send our condolences to his family….may he Rest In Peace.