Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 18, 2012

Collapse Of The Exit-Strategy In Afghanistan

Yesterday U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta characterized insider attacks on US troops in Afghanistan as the 'last gasp' of a frustrated Taliban insurgency. But what we really see are the 'last gasps' of the western forces in Afghanistan. The exit plan was to train Afghan forces by embedding western troops with their units and to bit by bit transfer security operations to them. That plan met reality and it did not survive the impact:
KABUL: NATO-led forces are scaling back joint operations with Afghan forces after a spate of "insider attacks" in which Afghan recruits turned their weapons on Western allies, officers said on Tuesday.
...
Under the new order, most joint patrols and advisory work with Afghan troops will only be conducted at the battalion level and above.

Cooperation with smaller units will have to be "evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approved by RC (regional) commanders", the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
NATO restricts joint operations with Afghans

This is an official acknowledgement that the plan to train Afghan forces and to transfer security operation to them has now failed. There is no longer a viable exit strategy but to cut and run.

Tellingly neither the Afghans nor U.S. allies were consulted in this decision:

The decision, which was announced in Washington, appeared to take the UK government by surprise, coming just a day after the defence secretary Philip Hammond defended Nato's continued work with Afghan troops in the Commons.

He said on Monday: "...it is essential that we complete the task of training the Afghan national security forces and increasing their capability so that they can take over the burden of combat as we withdraw. That is what we intend to do, and we will not be deterred from it by these attacks."

The original plan could continue if the western forces were willing to take more casualties. But the electorates in the west have long given up on Afghanistan and no politician is willing to argue for plans that are sure to end in many more dead soldiers.

Over the last few days six western forces died in green-on-blue incidents. The Taliban raided a huge and well protected (in theory) base in Helmand, destroyed or disabled 80% of the fighter jets of a Marian Aviation Squadron and killed its commander. A U.S. air attack went wrong and killed or wounded nearly twenty Afghan girls and women who were collection fire wood. The Afghan president spoke out against the one sided U.S. interpretation of a prisoner transfer deal. Several demonstrations about a U.S. anti-Islam film led to violent clashes with police forces. Today 10 foreign contractors, most of them South Africans, were killed in a suicide attack in Kabul.

The plan to exit by 2014 will have to be revised. It is likely that the retreat will now be accelerated and that most of the 150,000 western troops and contractors will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2013. The plans to keep special forces and their support elements in Afghanistan until at least 2024 will also need a revision. That plan depends on a Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) with the Afghan government which still needs to be signed. The Maliki government in Iraq got rid of the U.S. occupation forces by not signing a SOFA. The Karzai government or its follow on will likely use the same tactic to send the foreign troops away.

The U.S. alone still has some 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 containers in Afghanistan. It should leave them for the Afghans. They can take what they can use and sell the rest as scrap to China. It would be a small compensation for what they had and have to endure.

Posted by b on September 18, 2012 at 05:18 AM | Permalink

Comments

It's time for the NATO to except defeat and leave. You can't offer help to people by murdering them.

Posted by: Brock Bertrend | Sep 18, 2012 8:00:02 AM | 1

It is likely that the retreat will now be accelerated and that most of the 150,000 western troops and contractors will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

i wish it were 2012.

Posted by: annie | Sep 18, 2012 8:57:08 AM | 2

Yet on the US news The BIG Story about a video in which Willard called people victims for accepting Government handouts, presumably pensions and healthcare when obviously that money should be paid to Lockheed or Boeing or some other deserving corporation. Really the Republicans aren't even trying.

Posted by: heath | Sep 18, 2012 9:40:41 AM | 3

NATO did a splendid job of training the Afghans. They became proficient in identifying, attacking, and killing the enemy. What more could you ask for?

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 18, 2012 11:26:57 AM | 4

Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah rallying cry against imperial arrogance “Hayhat min al thulla”, an expression usually confined to the Ashura commemorations which basically means “us, humiliated? Never!” is the political culture that Nasrallah is trying to instill or revive in Muslims and Arabs. The arrogance will soon fall long live the resistance.

Posted by: hans | Sep 18, 2012 11:34:58 AM | 5

The collapse in Afghanistan is really unbelievable. The US no longer can trust the "native" troops it is leaving behind as a rearguard to cover its retreat. Without working with the Afghans, it cannot even run enough patrols to keep the Taliban at bay. And with the attack on the airfield, even the ace-in-the-hole of airpower to provide cover is threatened. The withdrawal is going to be a rout.

Posted by: Bill | Sep 18, 2012 11:42:34 AM | 6

New News on Britains lapdog dancing routine.

As B wrote, on Monday British Defence Minister Philip Hammond said, "it is essential that we complete the task of training the Afghan national security forces." On Tuesday, the US without consulting Britain, announced the scaling back of training to only a Battalion level and above.

So Wednesday how did Def Minister Hammond react

Following a scramble of phone calls between the chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, and General John Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, the minister insisted that no major strategic change had been made in policy towards Afghan allies.

Hammond insisted that future UK joint patrols and mentoring would continue but operations below company level would, on a temporary basis, have to be approved by Major General Gurganus, the US Isaf commander in charge.

Hammond should just walk around in a black leather gimp outfit with a diamond leash that America can tug when it wants something.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 18, 2012 11:56:10 AM | 7

Oops meant Tuesday not Wednesday. Damn weekdays :/

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 18, 2012 12:00:53 PM | 8

The whole cockamamie idea of timid little blowhards teaching lions how to roar (and transforming their women and children into red mist whenever the menfolk weren't around) was Waterloo-ish right from the get-go.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 18, 2012 12:07:44 PM | 9

Love it! "Hammond should just walk around in a black leather gimp outfit with a diamond leash that America can tug when it wants something." Colm O'Toole @7

I am constantly amazed at how Europeans "leaders" revel in their loss of self-determination...

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 18, 2012 12:17:13 PM | 10

It appears at first glance to be primarily a CYA (cover your ass) by the brass, however if it is truly implemented it will have a major effect on the troops at the working level (which is not the battalion level & above).

from Danger Room:

. . .But the new directive raises major questions about the future of U.S. mentorship to the Afghans. U.S. troops have been directed to bring the Afghans along on practically every mission they conduct — missions that almost always occur at the company and platoon level. In August, Marine Gen. John Allen, the ISAF commander, told the Pentagon press corps that “what we have learned is that the closer the relationship with them — indeed, the more we can foster a relationship of brotherhood, the more secure that we are.” Indeed, it was Allen who directed ISAF troops last year to make training the Afghans their top priority.

And it’s not just operations. In many cases, the Afghans physically live with their U.S. mentors, particularly on small bases sized for a company. Placing a layer of bureaucracy between Americans and Afghans will occur while those two forces share dining facilities and see each other every day. “Do you, all of a sudden, ignore the company commander you’ve worked with?” wonders Zeller, who lived on one of those bases, called Forward Operating Base Vulcan, with Afghans. “I would sympathize if [Afghans] felt abandoned.”

Then there’s the question of the training. Training Afghan troops doesn’t happen in a classroom. It happens on joint patrols, and often under fire. Few Afghan battalions operate with sufficient proficiency, in the judgment of ISAF, to act independently. And last year, defense wonks from the Center for a New American Security returned from a trip to Afghanistan lamenting that U.S. commanders were so focused on fighting the Taliban that their instinctive impulses were to put training Afghans on the back burner. Restricting low-level interaction with the Afghan soldiers has real risks for the progress of those Afghans.


Meanwhile these things don't happen without the enemy noticing, in this case that the new "insider" strategy is a major improvement for them and deserves wider application. It's the old military axiom: Reinforce success, not failure. Look for it, not only from the Taliban but also from the relatives of those women and children being victimized by callous air and artillery strikes, and of those males imprisoned without charges, etc.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 12:36:03 PM | 11

The basic problem here is one of attitudes, similar to the recent discussion on anti-American demonstrations in so many places, primarily in the Muslim world.

The attitude problem was nicely captured by a report published in May.
A CRISIS OF TRUST AND CULTURAL INCOMPATIBILITY: (pdf)
A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of Afghan
National Security Force Personnel and U.S. Soldiers in Understanding and Mitigating the Phenomena of
ANSF -Committed Fratricide-Murders
May 12, 2011
Jeffrey Bordin, Ph.D.
N2KL Red Team Political and Military Behavioral Scientist - (excerpts - p. 53)

. . .Unfortunately, the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend committed by ANSF personnel against ISAF members is a valid COIN measure of the ineffectiveness in our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency, gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans, building the ANSFs into legitimate and functional organizations, and challenges the efficacy of the 'partnering' concept.

crisis of trust between the two forces,

Actions that alienate and infuriate the Afghan populace will not contribute towards building a country that has either the capacity or willingness to challenge anti-Western extremism. Quite the opposite; such actions contribute to the metastasizing extremism, radicalism and theocratic tyranny being witnessed among much of Afghan society.

As long as ISAF political and military leaders are committed to the 'partnering' program with ANSF, more decisive efforts towards developing procedures and protocols, and perhaps most importantly, cultivating appropriate attitudes and mindsets specifically tailored to meet and satisfy Afghan cultural and theological sensitivities and normative demands are vital components towards improving the safety of ISAF soldiers.

Namely one group generally sees the other as a bunch of violent, reckless, intrusive, arrogant, self-serving, profane, infidel bullies hiding behind high technology; and the other group generally views the former as a bunch of cowardly, incompetent, obtuse, thieving, complacent, lazy, pot-smoking, treacherous and murderous radicals. Such is the state of progress in the current 'partnering' program. . .

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 12:50:05 PM | 12

"I am constantly amazed at how Europeans "leaders" revel in their loss of self-determination..."

I know what you mean. But these "leaders" are way ahead of the rest of society: they see themselves as part of an international ruling class, finally freed of the need to respond, leave alone accede, to the wishes of their countrymen.

They see democracy rather than imperialism as the threat to their self determination. They do as they are told by Washington because they see themselves as its trusted and well rewarded envoys whose presence in places like London and Berlin are indications not of their inferiority but of the special skills that Uncle Sam recognises and values.

And if they are ever tempted by old fashioned patriotic thoughts they have merely to look at the way Washington treats the American people: with a ruthless brutality that no French or German government would dare to employ. It is that, the American ruling class's refusal to provide anything approximating a welfare state, which reconciles the merely British Cabinet Minister to his role of accepting rather than issuing orders.

The dream they share is of a world in which no dissent is possible and the human race does as the greedy and the vicious desire.

Posted by: bevin | Sep 18, 2012 1:16:24 PM | 13

I'm confused. Call it Somezheimer's. I thought the SOFA agreement was what got us out of Iraq?

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Sep 18, 2012 1:44:06 PM | 14

@ Eureka Springs
SOFA - Status of Forces Agreement -- is a (purposely) misused term. A status-of-forces agreement is an agreement that defines the legal position of a visiting military force deployed in the territory of a friendly state. SOFAs normally do not arise to treaty status and merely involve legal positions on US troops.

Regarding Iraq, there is (purportedly) a Withdrawal Agreement (AKA Strategic Agreement) and a Strategic Framework Agreement. There are no original US copies of these agreements. All we have are unofficial translations of Arabic documents. The Withdrawal Agreement includes: All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.

This was all done by Bush on the sly by executive privilege, without congressional involvement, but with the assistance of Obama/Biden (to avoid constitutional senate advice & consent) in the Fall of 2008. On the Iraqi side, ironically, there was full democratic involvement by the parliament.

The withdrawal agreement was wrongfully called a SOFA probably to lower its significance below treaty level, to cut the congress especially the senate out of the process. It's another illustration of Executive Privilege gone wild. So with an all-powerful president who needs a congress?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 2:10:57 PM | 15

Thanks Don. I remember all of that now. How easily the so-called left ignored the O unitary / executive privilege positioning from the get go... it still amazes me.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Sep 18, 2012 2:33:34 PM | 16

The great inside story on SOFA is how Maliki worked with Iran to trick the US into thinking it would have a "South Korea-style permanent presence". Only once the withdrawal was agreed and underway did Maliki turn around and add a clause in that US troops/contractors would be under Iraqi law (knowing the US wouldn't be able to accept that and the deal on permanent bases would fall through).

Must read: IPS Gereth Porter How Maliki & Iran outsmarted the US on troop withdrawal

Apparently the deal was planned by legendary Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 18, 2012 2:58:55 PM | 17

@ Eureka Springs
How easily the so-called left ignored the O unitary / executive privilege positioning from the get go... it still amazes me.

Tell me again the difference between Coke and Pepsi? :-)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 3:09:31 PM | 18

@ Colm O' Toole
from the link: . . . the officials behind the U.S. scheme, had been clueless about what was happening until it was too late.

One might characterize this as a disadvantage of executive privilege. The US House attempted to hold hearings on the matter but Bush denied them any information. The Senate, as described above, who ought have been involved in this important inter-government agreement AKA treaty was never a factor in any way. I'm not claiming that this would have changed anything but at least the government would have been properly engaged in the matter, and not entirely "clueless."

There is a similar but even more important disadvantage when the president is allowed to war against other nations w/o a whimper from the Senate (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc etc). That's a whole 'nother topic, and also a reason why those events don't turn out well in the US "democracy." (Again, recognizing that Senate involvement is no guarantee of success, e.g. Iraq which some mistakenly call a "victory.")

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 3:25:50 PM | 19

One can envisage a similar scenario in Afghanistan whereby the Taliban agree not to attack the Afghan Government if the Americans all leave. Of course the Taliban may not need an agreement by then.

Posted by: dh | Sep 18, 2012 3:36:31 PM | 20

@ Don Bacon

One might characterize this as a disadvantage of executive privilege.

Completely agree. According to State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren (who runs the excellent blog We Meant Well) the negotiations were run by one guy called Brett McGurk who got a high level job at the US Baghdad Embassy despite having no experience/knowledge of Iraq and not speaking Arabic. Apparently once in Iraq he became a champion of Maliki thinking him to be the perfect US ally.

"Many Iraqi players outside Maliki's circle view McGurk as an advocate for the prime minister. That may not be a fair characterization, but the perceptions are there on the ground

Source: ForeignPolicy.com

He also joked to a Wall St Journal reporter that he was having an affair with (Caroline Wong).

I can insert a rider into the [Status of Forces Agreement] exempting prosecution of our consumption of alcohol at the Rasheed hotel on Sunday night.”

Source: McGuik's Arabian Nights

His affair while in Baghdad is what sunk his nomination hearing for ambassador of Iraq. Someone leaked his emails causing Caroline Wong to be fired from the Wall St Journal for sleeping with a source, and showing him complaining of "blue balls" while in Iraq. Also if you follow the link above it talks about how a video of McGuirk having sex on the roof of the Republican Palace with an embassy staffer also came to light.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 18, 2012 4:10:32 PM | 21

It's amazing how memory of Iraq quickly disappears.

The issue in Iraq was the SOFA, which would allow US troops to remain in Iraq. Bush declared colonial-style conditions in June 2008, and that produced a political rejection, which led to a refusal to sign. And so US troops left.

Afghanistan is quite different. Karzai, as a US creature, will sign anything in order to survive.

I only hope that Karzai has his escape tunnel well prepared.

Posted by: alexno | Sep 18, 2012 5:02:50 PM | 22

Maliki had support from Iran and Iraqi Shia. Karzai's only hope is to make a deal with the Pashtun/Pakistan. And the Taliban will need to sign off on that.

Posted by: dh | Sep 18, 2012 5:22:14 PM | 23

' The Afghan president spoke out against the one sided U.S. interpretation of a prisoner transfer deal'

is it the mouse that roared or the lion that squeaked?

Posted by: brian | Sep 18, 2012 5:30:42 PM | 24

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 18, 2012 4:10:32 PM | 21

standard issue american diplomat?

Posted by: brian | Sep 18, 2012 5:32:20 PM | 25

Namely one group generally sees the other as a bunch of violent, reckless, intrusive, arrogant, self-serving, profane, infidel bullies hiding behind high technology; and the other group generally views the former as a bunch of cowardly, incompetent, obtuse, thieving, complacent, lazy, pot-smoking, treacherous and murderous radicals. Such is the state of progress in the current 'partnering' program. . .


Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 12:50:05 PM | 12

yes...you can feel the love...but from the above i cant tell who is who!

Posted by: brian | Sep 18, 2012 5:35:37 PM | 26

While on the topic of the Iraqi SOFA, don't forget the Iraqi Oil Law that was demanded by the US to leave Iraq. Obstructed until the US was kicked out IIRC.

Anyway, Afghanistan. None of the reports of the attack on the airbase mentions anything about what happened to the attackers. So I figure they not only attacked and destroyed aircrafts but managed to get away with it.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 18, 2012 5:51:34 PM | 27

Regarding Afghanistan there are two agreements in force. There is no SOFA.

* For the past ten years, military relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been governed by a two-page "diplomatic note" giving U.S. forces virtual carte blanche to conduct operations as they see fit. This is a two-page diplomatic note exchanged between the United States and a non-elected, interim Afghan government in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks and the launch of U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. The note delves into arcane issues such as customs duties and driver's licenses. It devotes only a few sentences to "the conduct of ongoing military operations," giving U.S. troops "a status equivalent" to diplomatic immunity and exempting them from any Afghan "disciplinary authority" or legal jurisdiction.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/27/AR2008082703628.html?referrer=emailarticle

* "Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America" signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai on May 1, 2012. This is a generally-worded agreement, with few specifics, that promises "enduring" US support for Afghanistan. NYTimes: "It is meant to reassure the Afghan people that the United States will not abandon them, to warn the Taliban not to assume that they can wait out the West, and to send a message to Pakistan, which American officials believe has been hedging its bets in the belief that an American departure would leave the Taliban in charge." Sure.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/2012.06.01u.s.-afghanistanspasignedtext.pdf

So we have a diplomatic note and a general "enduring" agreement signed by Obama and Karzai, with the latter mandated to leave office by 2014 due to a two-term constitutional limit.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 6:17:52 PM | 28

Regarding the recent attack.

ISAF:

The attack commenced just after 10 p.m. when approximately 15 insurgents executed a well-coordinated attack against the airfield on Camp Bastion. The insurgents, organized into three teams, penetrated at one point of the perimeter fence.

The insurgents appeared to be well equipped, trained and rehearsed.

Dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and armed with automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests, the insurgents attacked Coalition fixed and rotary wing aircraft parked on the flight line, aircraft hangars and other buildings.

Six Coalition AV-8B Harrier jets were destroyed and two were significantly damaged. Three Coalition refueling stations were also destroyed. Six soft-skin aircraft hangars were damaged to some degree.

Coalition forces engaged the insurgents, killing 14 and wounding one who was taken into custody. In addition to the two Coalition service members that were killed, nine Coalition personnel – eight military and one civilian contractor – were wounded in the attack. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 6:22:37 PM | 29

Afghanistan. The graveyard of empires.

What are these Afghan po-lice or army, authoritarian forces

supposed to accomplish?

> Direct traffic in Kaboul? With spiffy uniforms and white gloves?

Install red lights? Rid the streets of dangerous toxic garbage? Prevent outright heists or killing in towns and villages? Or at least chase and arrest, imprison? Protect some who are under threat of attack? Keep order in the streets? Intimidate to halt minor corruption? Remove illegal arms and impound dangerous vehicles? Treat beggars and small time scammers and prostitutes with sensitivity? Close down drug-traders, gradually? Send minors to social services which don’t exist?

Heh what? Ideally, yes, but unrealistic.

So maybe they should, or could, Stop poppy-> heroin cultivation? HALT the spread of AIDS? Help little girls to get an education? Repress mafia type bosses (drugs and re-construction funds)... Support a democratic Gvmt? Enforce building laws, permits?

All that would be outside their remit in any case.

What is left? Killing the Taliban? What war are they supposed to be fighting?

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 18, 2012 6:54:22 PM | 30

My understanding (from a friend who visits Afghanistan frequently) is that the Afghan police set up roadblocks and search vehicles. Apparently they also do a considerable amount of pilfering.

Posted by: dh | Sep 18, 2012 7:09:47 PM | 31

@ Colm O' Toole
Thanks for the info on scumbag Brett McGurk, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan National Security Council

Too bad Obama couldn't get Bush's horny errand boy into that ambassador slot. But Obama never did differ much from Bush, if any.

Obama, July 2004: 'There’s not much of a difference between my position and George Bush’s position [on Iraq] at this stage.' In a meeting with Chicago Tribune reporters at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said, “On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. […] There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute.” [Chicago Tribune, 07/27/04]

Fred Kaplan on Slate liked McGurk as much as Obama did.
For Obama, he suspended a lucrative book contract to return to Iraq and negotiate the 2011 accord that ended U.S. involvement in the war. In short, he’s an experienced, bipartisan, if not nonpartisan, professional who, the White House must have thought, would appeal to players on the ground in Iraq and both sides of the aisle in Washington.

One senior diplomat, who asked to remain nameless so he wouldn’t be dragged into the controversy, told me on Tuesday that McGurk “knows the actors and portfolio better than any other U.S. official,” and called his treatment and withdrawal “a tragedy and a disgrace.” A half-dozen other officials who worked with McGurk, assured anonymity so they could speak candidly, were equally enthusiastic about him and appalled by the process of his dismissal.


McGurk negotiated the 2011 accord that ended U.S. involvement in the war! Imagine that! Kaplan did, totally.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 8:53:22 PM | 32

Meanwhile Russia will move into the vacuum, reinforcing relationships with Central Asian countries and repairing relations with Pakistan. Talk about irony.

Afghanistan-

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that his country was willing to boost trade links with war-battered Afghanistan and train its security forces. At a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the 12th Shanghai Security Organization in Beijing, Putin said: "This refers both to the possibility of restoring what was done by the former Soviet Union, and to new projects."

and surroundings- Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan

A raft of Russian-Kyrgyz agreements has been negotiated, to be signed during Putin's visit to Bishkek. The indications are that Russia may write off two-fifths of the debt owed it by Kyrgyzstan (converting some of it for acquiring assets in Kyrgyzstan) and is committing itself to deeper involvement in the Kyrgyz economy, including renewed assistance in the construction of the Kamarata-1 hydroelectric dam project

Tajikistan has been the focus of intense great-power rivalries lately. The US was hoping to secure basing facilities in Tajikistan. As per earlier indications, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is due to visit Dushanbe in the third week of October. A visit by Putin to Dushanbe in October also seems to be in the cards. At the eleventh hour, Moscow seems to have ensured that it will not be squeezed out by the Pentagon in Tajikistan.

Clearly, Putin's visit to Pakistan, which is now expected to take place in October, has been scheduled at a most critical juncture in Russia's Central Asia strategy. The visit was slated originally for August but Moscow evidently sought first to consolidate its strategic understanding with its Central Asian allies (especially Tajikistan) before hopping over to the south of the Pamirs and the Hindu Kush. On October 3, Pakistan will host a session of its quadrilateral summit of the heads of state from Russia, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The key agenda item for the summit will be the struggle against terrorism in the Central Asian region.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18, 2012 9:38:25 PM | 33

Let's not forget the number of contractors still in Iraq.

http://blog.dangerzonejobs.com/overseas-contracting-outlook/overseas-contractor-count-1stqtr-2012/

Posted by: ben | Sep 18, 2012 10:21:34 PM | 34

'They hate us for our freedoms!'
Facebook has blocked Press TV’s advertisements on the social networking website, saying that the Iranian news network is located in a region which is “not eligible to use this feature.”
Facebook’s risk management department informed Press TV in an email that the social networking website’s security systems had shut down the payments functionality on Press TV’s account.

Press TV has more than 140,000 Facebook fans and its alternative channel has had one of the fastest-growing Facebook accounts in recent years, which is the result of the rapid rise in the number of Press TV viewers.

The Iranian channel argues that Facebook’s decision to block Press TV’s advertisements contradicts the social networking site's claims that it provides a platform for free speech.

Facebook disabled the account of Iran’s Press TV in July due to what they called technical problems. The account was reactivated after three days.

TE/PKH/IS
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/09/18/262308/facebook-blocks-press-tv-ads/

Posted by: brian | Sep 19, 2012 4:12:54 AM | 35

the BBC(British state media) posted back in july a photo of a pro-Assad rally and made it out to be anti=Assad:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4230624516814&set=o.325039527571295&type=1&theater

Posted by: brian | Sep 19, 2012 4:14:15 AM | 36

Ignorance fuels these epic misdadventures. I am constantly amazed at the absolute partisan ignorance exhibited by the average American. Truth is, most Americans don't know jack shit, except what is funneled into their empty skulls by the likes of Maddow or Hannity.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Sep 19, 2012 6:00:19 AM | 37

Freelance Journalist Nick Fielding (who has been living in Afghanistan the last 4 years) summed up events pretty well.

If there are any more weekends like the one that has just passed, then there won't be any need for the Taliban to negotiate.

He goes on to talk about the Camp Bastion attack:

The Camp Bastion night attack will go down as one of the most one-sided and audacious attacks in the history of modern warfare. Around 15-20 Taliban got into the base - home to 21,000 US and British soldiers - and proceeded to destroy six US Marine Harrier AV-8B jump jets, as well as damage many others. The cost to the Taliban, besides the deaths of its fighters, was probably no more than a few thousand dollars. The costs to the Coalition runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. The base, which is surrounded by desert, was thought so safe that even Prince Harry was allowed to stay there. He was hidden away in a bunker for the duration of the four-hour firefight. Not our most glorious moment.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Sep 19, 2012 9:30:07 AM | 38

A MUST-READ -- Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 19, 2012 9:46:15 AM | 39

Rather surprised no-one has mentioned this relatating to the major attack on the base in Afghanistan...


The Haqqani network was finally listed as a terrorist organisation by the US two weeks ago!
This attack seems very likely their response to me...

They are probably the largest, most sophisticated terrorist linked organisation in world, with connections to numerous intelligence agencies, most of the major insurgent groups in Afghanistan, & have excellent financial resources thanks to their control of major smuggling routes (including atleast some part of the NATO supply routes), as well impressive links to the GCC financing arm.

They were previously believed to behind the previous infiltration & attack of a supposedly highly secure Camp Chapman, a key facility for the CIA, & killed seven operatives, including the chief of the base, & severely injured a bunch more.

The parallels between the two attacks are striking, & it seems amazing to me that I can't seem to find anyone in the MSM (or elsewhere) pointing to Haqqani's as the likely perpetrators.

This attack is right up their ally - they have the form, the motive & they certainly have the resources.

Maybe I missed it being posted somewhere?

Posted by: KenM | Sep 19, 2012 10:48:52 AM | 40

@ Don Bacon #39: Thank you for that link. A good read indeed.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Sep 19, 2012 11:56:52 AM | 41

@29
Thanks Don, I thought it was strange indeed if they had maaged to get away too.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 19, 2012 2:50:44 PM | 42

Heard an American commander on the CBC last night. He said it was "cultural differences" causing the problem. When asked what the differences were, he said the U.S. troops cuss and Afghans don't like it. He kept saying he didn't understand why they would get mad enough over cussing to kill someone when U.S. troops are doing so much to help them. Unbelievable, if this is the level of understanding of the officer corps of what the U.S. is doing there.

Posted by: Linda J | Sep 19, 2012 3:53:05 PM | 43

@Lina J
See my #12, please.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 19, 2012 9:13:50 PM | 44

Afghanistan gets complicated. US military supply movements require protection payments, apparently.

Press TV

Taliban militants have destroyed at least 13 NATO supply fuel tankers in Afghanistan’s southern Zabul Province, leaving one person injured, Press TV reports.

The incident took place late Tuesday, in the town of Shahr-e Safa. Shahr-e Safa official, Shadi Khan says such attacks are usually seen when the tankers travel without Afghan approval.


Mr. Khan (or his boss) didn't his payment and approval -- got that, NATO?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 19, 2012 9:26:45 PM | 45

Why that hate us, reason MCCLXXII:

Telegraph
Philip Hammond: it's difficult to defend Camp Bastion from Taliban

Mr Hammond, speaking in the Commons after a weekend attack on Camp Bastion, told MPs that securing a base with an area similar to that of Reading, was inevitably a struggle. . . Despite its extensive garrison, numerous fences and remote location, Mr Hammond admitted that defending the base is highly challenging.

“It is difficult to defend a site of this size, particularly when faced with a suicidal attack,” he said.

Mr Hammond told MPs that “a number of improvements” have been made in base security since the attack, including an increase in perimeter patrols. People living in several villages and settlements close to the base’s fence line have been told they must move “so that we will have a clearer field of fire,” Mr Hammond said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 19, 2012 11:49:38 PM | 46

Don,

I had not heard of Gerry Spence until you mentioned him and linked to his book. I then read a review and then the first chapter of his book from his web site. My suggestion to you, is reread that chapter and consider JonnH’s advice to check out jury nullification and then let your conscience be your guide.

...But the first wrong was not his. Nor was the first wrong the government's. The first wrong was ours.

In this country we embrace the myth that we are still a democracy when we know that we are not a democracy, that we are not free, that the government does not serve us but subjugates us. Although we give lip service to the notion of freedom, we know the government is no longer the servant of the people but, at last, has become the people's master. We have stood by like timid sheep while the wolf killed-first the weak, then the strays, then those on the outer edges of the flock, until at last the entire flock belonged to the wolf. We did not care about the weak or about the strays. They were not a part of the flock. We did not care about those on the outer edges. They had chosen to be there. But as the wolf worked its way toward the center of the flock we discovered that we were now on the outer edges. Now we must look the wolf squarely in the eye. That we did not do so when the first of us was ripped and torn and eaten was the first wrong. It was our wrong.

I would also consider the actions of Smedley Butler leading up to his exposure of the coup plot to remove FDR.

I’ve ordered Spence’s book. Thanks; after finishing “JFK and the Unspeakable” I need something else so apparently trenchant.

Posted by: juannie | Sep 20, 2012 3:50:45 AM | 47

Eleven years for nothing. To stamp down insurgency and pacify the population the occupier needs one soldier/cop for 40 citizens; a little less than a million boots on the ground and stay forever i.e. Germany and Japan. This never happened in Afghanistan because it would require taxing the Elite; drafting middle class kids, and westernizing the Afghans. So the war has dragged on forever; fought only to enrich War Profiteers.

I told a colleague at work in 2002 that American couldn’t win the War. He gave me a quizzical look; later I told him the Iraq invasion was crazy; what a strange Vietnam Vet. I am now retired on a federal pension; part of the Loser 47%.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Sep 20, 2012 5:10:31 PM | 48

SecDef Panetta said recently "we're at a turning point" (Sep 17):

Let me just say a few things. As I've said before, I think we're at a turning point, certainly after 10 years of war, . .

But it's not the first time:
*June 7, 2012: Panetta: We are, as I said, at a turning point after 10 years of war.
*May 3, 2012: Panetta: 2011 was really a turning point. In 2011 the Taliban was weakened significantly. They couldn’t organize the kind of attacks to regain territory that they had lost, which is something they have done in the past. So they’ve been weakened.
* April 18, 2012: Panetta: As I've said, 2011 was a real turning point. It was the first time in five years that we saw a drop in the number of enemy attacks.
* April 17, 2012: Panetta: NATO at ‘Pivotal Point’ in Afghan Mission
* December 14, 2011: Panetta was less than 34 miles from the Pakistan border when he told U.S. troops they have reached a turning point in the war.
* April 21, 2011: Gates: " I think it’s possible that by the end of this year we will have turned a corner just because of the Taliban being driven out, and, more importantly, kept out."
* March 15, 2011: "FOB DELHI: International troops in Afghanistan face the prospect of a spring offensive by the Taliban every year – but this time the US-led alliance believes it could mark a real turning point in its favour."
* February 20, 2010: “Western officials believe that a turning point has been reached in the war against the Taliban, with a series of breakthroughs suggesting that the insurgents are on the back foot for the first time since their resurgence four years ago.”
* August 31, 2009: “Monday marks the end of August, a month with both good and bad news out of Afghanistan — and the approach of a key turning point.“
* -- etc. back to 2002

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 20, 2012 8:28:27 PM | 49

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