Peace In Our Time?

I wish I could say that with the urge to laugh out loud…..

Sorry I had to borrow a line from UK’s Chamberlain in 1938….but this time I am talking about America’s longest war ever….Afghanistan.

The latest round of talks between the US and the Taliban have ended with what is being called a “roadmap to peace” for Afghanistan. The agreement is non-binding, but points toward a formal agreement being not far down the road.

The talks effectively have an agreement on the US withdrawal and the Taliban fighting against ISIS and al-Qaeda, and commits both sides to a deal to end civilian casualties and negotiate with the Afghan government on power-sharing.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the head US negotiator, is expressing hopes that the deal will ultimately be finalized by September 1. This would be the day for signing the deal, though when everything would be implemented is still unclear.

A final deal is expected to both put a timeline to everything, and provide some mechanism of international guarantors for the peace deal, ending 18 years of US-led occupation of Afghanistan.

(antiwar.com)

Where was the “elected” Afghan government in these talks?

I asked and I received…..

The Afghan peace process “must be fully Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” former President Hamid Karzai said at the 8th World Peace Forum in China on Tuesday, according to Xinhua report.

“Progress is there between the United States and the Taliban, and hopefully, it is one that will ensure lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad concluded the seventh round of talks with the Taliban negotiators on July 9 in Qatar. He was cited by reports as saying that the Afghans are closer to reaching peace than any time in the past.

Khalilzad said on July 8 that he had “lots of progress” on four key issues under debate in the negotiations.

The four issues which have been discussed by the US and the Taliban negotiators in the seven rounds of talks are counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, a ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks.  

Karzai lauded efforts made to push for national reconciliation and bring about peace in Afghanistan, such as the two-day intra-Afghan dialogue opened on Sunday in Qatar’s capital Doha with the presence of a 17-member negotiating team from the Taliban.

(tolonews.com)

Wait!

Did I see that the Taleban was fighting against AQ and ISIS?

And yet the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy…..then explain to all of us just why the Hell are we still fighting and dying in this region?

NATO has a different take on when  to leave…..

Acting Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid, the Resolute Support Commander Gen. Scott Miller, and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Nicholas Kay on Wednesday visited Ghazni to assess the security of the central province.

Addressing the meeting, Kay said NATO will not leave Afghanistan until the job is done.

“We are not leaving. We are not leaving until the job is done. If the Taliban think they can just wait us out, then they have miscalculated,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the acting defense minister said they visited the province to show to the security forces that the government is supporting them.

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/nato-will-not-leave-afghanistan-until-job-done-kay

WTF?

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

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Afghanistan–Exit Stage Right

I have been writing about our intervention of Afghanistan since 2005……I understand the 2001 attacks…it was to punish those that killed many Americans…..but to remain 17 more years was just lunacy…..

There have been talks with the Taleban lately trying to find a way out of Afghanistan for American troops…..and it looks like these talks may have been successful at least according to Pompeo…..

During a surprise visit to Kabul, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US is prepared to remove its troops from Afghanistan, ending 18+ years of military presence in the country.

Pompeo says that the US has “made clear to the Taliban” that they are prepared for such a pullout, but said the two sides still have not agreed on a timeline for the exact withdrawal.

This echoes what the Taliban was saying last week, ahead of the Doha talks, which oddly US officials contested at the time. The Doha talks are meant to shore up an exact date for the US exit.

This has been the broad framework of a deal reported for months, that the US would leave and the Taliban would keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. Other aspects of the final deal, including a permanent ceasefire and reconciliation between the Taliban and the US-backed government, are expected to come later.

(antiwar.com)

Wait!  Is this an exit strategy?

In talking up how ready he was for an Iran war, Trump dismissed questions about what his exit strategy would be, declaring “I don’t need exit strategies” to a gathering of reporters. He did not elaborate on what that actually meant.

Is that just for Iran?

What a dynamite diplomatic ploy dazzle them with confusion and baffle them with Twitter.

Closing Thought–27Jun19

More sad news to report…..2 more American soldiers have died in Afghanistan in a firefight with the Taleban…..

Two US soldiers were reported killed Wednesday in a firefight in Afghanistan. This brings the number of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year to nine.

Details are somewhat conflicting, with the two soldiers, part of a Special Forces team, killed by small arms fire in a fight with the Taliban. US officials claimed the fight was in southern Uruzgan Province, while the Taliban said it was in eastern Wardak Province.

It isn’t clear why the two sides offered different accounts of where the fight happened, and it’s worth noting that the two provinces in question don’t even border one another. Early reports suggested that the Taliban had ambushed the US troops.

With 9 US troops killed in only the first half of 2019, their casualties are tracking a multi-year high. 13 were killed in 2018, and 11 more were killed in 2017. Though this is below the highs of early in the war’s first decade, the tolls have been rising over the past couple of years.

This reflects the Trump Administration’s decision to escalate the war in 2017. The war continues to rage,

(antiwar.com)

For more information about these deaths we go to the Stars and Stripes……https://www.stripes.com/two-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan-were-special-forces-in-close-quarters-fight-according-to-report-1.587645

Enough is enough…..it is time for war to be put to bed as a foreign policy technique……it is an election in about 18 months and what better time to make the cessation of war a prime policy for the candidates?

When will the American start to care about the deaths our presidents have ordered?

As the old song says….”Give Peace A Chance”……

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo” (I think therefore I write)

The Afghanistan Conundrum

At what point does the US leave the battleground known as Afghanistan? Every president since the beginning of the US involvement has said that our troops were not there indefinitely…and yet 18 years on and they are still there….

And very little with change with this next election…..candidates are asked about keeping troops in Afghanistan and the canned response is….”not indefinitely but a realistic approach to withdrawal”……and that has been the answer for 15 years maybe longer….

Afghanistan is a conundrum…….

In January 2018, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani publicly admitted that without American support, his government and the Afghan National Army couldn’t last very long. That remains the case today: the government is in disarray and the ANA is barely holding out against the Taliban-led insurgency.

Yet US President Donald Trump understandably wants to disentangle America, if possible through a political settlement, from what has become an unwinnable war. As such, the Taliban and their supporters have no compelling reason to let the Afghan government and the United States off the hook easily. And given the complex web of conflicting interests in Afghanistan, separate US and Russian efforts to reach an enduring settlement may not succeed.

Afghanistan’s problem is not primarily a military one. Despite the ANA’s heavy losses (more than 45,000 personnel since mid-2014) and increased insecurity in the country, the army has managed to prevent the Taliban from taking over any major city on a lasting basis. US funding of the ANA to the tune of some US$4 billion per year, together with allied operational assistance, has been crucial in this regard.

 
Before Trump’s Acing SecDef left office he announced a possible break through in negotiations with the Taleban…….
US negotiations with the Taliban have been making substantial progress in recent months, and there seem to be high hopes that a meeting next week in Doha would be a breakthrough moment. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen suggested the deal is already effectively made.

Shaheen announced on Twitter Tuesday that the US had pledged to accept a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and furthermore to never again interfere in Afghan affairs.

That is certainly the direction the talks have been going, but US military spokesman Col. Dave Butler denied that any such deal was made, saying that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

But the basic framework has always been a US withdrawal and the Taliban keeping ISIS and al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. Further details may need to be worked out to finalize everything, and it’s not clear where they are in that process.

Still, for the US to completely deny that a deal is agreed to seems dishonest, even if technically it isn’t finalized. The US likely just isn’t ready to make this part of the deal official, because of the backlash from Congressional hawks who want to keep troops in Afghanistan forever.
 
(antiwar.com)
Bits and pieces released to give the illusion of looking for a solution to the continuing problem of our stay in Afghanistan……
 
Will our weary troops ever see home again?

Afghanistan…The Way It Is

We hear a lot these days about the US Troops in Afghanistan…..just what will it take for the war to be declared a success and the troops brought home.

One thought is that as soon as we can get the Afghan troops into a place where they can take control then ours can come home. Yet another is that the talks with the Taleban could bring about a cessation of hostilities and the troops can come home…..and yet another says we are there for the foreseeable future with NO chance of our troops coming home.

And then there is one more aspect that is usually missing from these calculations…..ISIS remember them?

ISIS has lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, the group is expanding its footprint, recruiting new fighters, and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries, according to US and Afghan security officials. Nearly two decades after the US-led invasion, the extremist group is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and abroad, the AP reports. Concerns run so deep that many have come to see the Taliban, which has also clashed with ISIS, as a potential partner in containing it. A US intelligence official based in Afghanistan says a recent wave of attacks in the capital, Kabul, is “practice runs” for even bigger attacks in Europe and the US.

“This group is the most near-term threat to our homelands from Afghanistan,” the official tells the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity to preserve his operational security. Their “core mandate is: You will conduct external attacks” in the US and Europe. “That is their goal. It’s just a matter of time,” he says. “It is very scary.” He says ISIS fighters captured in Afghanistan have been found to be in contact with fellow militants in other countries. Authorities have already made at least eight arrests in the United States linked to the IS affiliate in Afghanistan. “One of the hopes of a negotiated settlement is that it will bring the Taliban into the government and into the fight” against ISIS, the official says. “They know the mountains, they know the terrain. It’s their territory.”

Read more…….https://www.apnews.com/0a4f38c0ead84ecba2e0102c8b3b0b40

Let’s face reality…..US Troops are there for the long run …..the troops may never come home in my lifetime…there will always be an excuse for them to stay in country.

At least the Russian had the good sense tp get out when they could….but our MIC is just too powerful to allow the troops to leave……the profits would cease and we cannot have that no matter how many lives it costs.

How To Win In Afghanistan

This war has been raging for 18 years……and there is no end in sight. Out troops will continue to have multiple deployments and we continue to throw money at a hopeless cause.

Plus I listen to the major Dem candidates when asked about Afghanistan…..most have a common stand…they do not want to leave our troops in Afghanistan but they would remove them in a responsible way…….sounds like the last two presidents……what it means is they will stay in Afghanistan until the weapons industry says we can leave.

I have been asking for years just what would it take to declare victory and bring our weary troops home for a much deserved rest?

It appears that the only strategy we have is to wait the Taleban out…….

The Thirty Years War? The Hundred Years War? The Forever War? More than 17 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan to depose the Taliban regime, the United States has failed to crush the resulting Taliban insurgency and cannot withdraw without allowing them to return to power. Political frustration is building. The United States is questioning an ongoing presence. United States Senator Rand Paul recently said, “[W]e’re in an impossible situation. I see no hope for it.” Among the many depressing aspects of the situation is the $13 billion being spent each year in maintaining approximately 16,000 American service members in Afghanistan. The lower estimate for maintaining one service member in Afghanistan is $500,000 per year. More realistic estimates put the number at $1 million per year. (In 2018, to maintain the current force of 16,000, the United States spent $13 billion on U.S. forces and $5 billion on Afghan forces. This provides a cost of approximately $812,000 per U.S. service member per year). The 175,000 strong Afghan National Army (ANA) costs about $5 billion per year or $28,000 per member.

Presently, the United States and NATO maintain discrete military units in Afghanistan. These units operate against the Taliban and train ANA troops. Each year, significant numbers of ANA troops desert. A bigger problem is tens of thousands of ANA “ghost soldiers.” According to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, these “soldiers” are just names on the ANA’s rolls enabling corrupt high-ranking Afghanis to steal their salaries. The present system of giving money to the Afghan government is not creating an ANA that can ever achieve victory.

 
So there is my answer….we will just wait the Taleban out…eventually they will tire of fighting and come to a peace accord.
 
The Taleban seems to think that the US is ready to set a date for departure……
Taliban negotiator spokesman Mohammed Sohail Shaheen, currently in Moscow from the recent talks between Taliban and Afghan officials, reported that he expects, during the next round of talks with the US, the Americans will announce a specific date for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

The US and Taliban have been known to be advancing toward a deal for months, centered on the US withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Taliban promising to keep ISIS and al-Qaeda out of the country in return.

Shaheen said that if the US does set a date, it will create a very real possibility of settling the war in Afghanistan, now ongoing for some 18 years. President Trump has talked up the merits of such a deal, though some US officials are said to oppose any deal that doesn’t leave a remnant US force in Afghanistan.
 
(antiwar.com)
Seriously?  Did they check with Raytheon or Boeing or any other of the MIC?
 
And they call me a dreamer!
 
$13 billion a year is the cost…bring the troops home and we can use that cash for a damn silly wall and Trump can claim the Afghanistan paid for it.
 
Peace Out!

Can Afghanistan Be Saved?

The US went to Afghanistan after the cowardly attacks of 9/11 to get the mastermind of the attacks…..we failed originally but we stayed to save Afghanistan from the brutality of the Taleban…..to be honest…we are failing at that attempt as well.

There are peace talks these days between the government of Afghanistan and the Taleban and the US is playing a minor role (or so we are told)…..but all indications are that the US wants peace much more than the Afghans…..

I recently read that only a little over half of Americans are even aware the U.S. is, after 17 years, still fighting a war in Afghanistan. Since the beginning of the war, the U.S. has spent more than $900 billion dollars in military and civilian support. This does not include the human toll of those killed and the tens of thousands wounded.

Unfortunately, there is little to show for all this expense.

Yes, Afghanistan has an army, but without U.S. forces they would quickly succumb to the Taliban, who today control more than half of the country. On the civilian side, the Afghan government, despite proven reserves of valuable minerals including lithium and rare earth (estimates are over a trillion dollars worth) remains dependent upon a constant stream of donor dollars.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/04/27/afghanistan-trump-taliban-opium-corruption-column/3589562002/

Basically we Americans are trying to save Afghans from themselves….and in the long run (if that benchmark has not been met yet) do Afghans want to be “saved”?

After nearly two decades of bloodshed, meaningful progress is finally being made towards a conclusion of the war in Afghanistan. Negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar have achieved an uncommon consistency. On the domestic front, a bipartisan resolution matching the Taliban’s proposed timeline has emerged in the U.S. Senate. The main voices opposing peace originate from within the Pentagon and the Afghan National Unity Government. In a departure from their constitutionally mandated subordinate role, top generals are calling for yet another extension on murky grounds. Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has also urged against a timely withdraw, claiming that the government in Kabul lacks the strength required for independence. Whether by incompetence or corruption, neither contingent should have the credibility to dictate the plan for removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

The conditions Washington and Kabul point to as requirements for a withdraw cannot be met. The National Unity Government does not represent a plurality of the Afghan people, and with former warlords in its ranks, it will continue to lack the requisite legitimacy to govern. In spite of the nearly $900 billion dedicated to reconstruction and governance efforts since 2001, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) suffer from infiltration, ineptitude, and high casualty rates. It is unclear how additional years, lives, and billions of dollars will guide Afghanistan toward a stable future. The peace talks in Doha represent gradual yet genuine progress, and they warrant all the support Washington can muster. Alternatives to this current opportunity for peace represent a continuation of the same failed strategies toward an even more shameful, inevitable departure.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/america-cannot-save-afghanistan-55142

If Afghanistan cannot be saved then why must the US continue to pour cash and blood into the country?

There is a question for your next president or supreme leader (the title may change by next election.