Inside the Massacre at Afghan Compound
The Wall Street Journal by Dion Nissenbaum and Maria Abi-Habib
Officials are painting the weekend killings at the United Nations mission in northern Afghanistan's largest city—which sparked cascading violence across the nation—as the handiwork of a small band of insurgents that used a protest against a Quran-burning as cover for a murderous plot...a Wall Street Journal reconstruction of Friday's assault, based on unreleased videos, interviews with demonstrators and the U.N.'s own recounting of events, shows a more complex picture and indicates that ordinary Afghan demonstrators played a critical role in the attack.
Budget hawks may not turn a blind eye to Pentagon
The Washington Times by Seth McLaughlin
Despite a near-consensus on Capitol Hill on the need to cut spending, about a fifth of the federal budget has been placed entirely off limits: the Defense Department, which is so awash in cash that even its auditors have a tough time telling where all the money is going.
592 American Soldiers Have Died In Afghanistan Since President Obama Announced The Surge
Think Progress by Zaid Jelani
During the height of the Iraq war, the U.S. media paid close attention to troop deaths and fatalities, often making casualties among American soldiers leading stories in newspapers and on the airwaves. As ThinkProgress previously noted, the American press has essentially withdrawn from covering the war in Afghanistan, with the Pew Center finding that the media only devoted four percent of its coverage to the war during 2010.
Top Afghan Official Confirms Talks with the Taliban
The New York Times by Rod Nordland
A top Afghan official confirmed on Wednesday that the country’s government had been in peace talks with the Taliban. The official, Mohammad Massoom Stanekzai, secretary of the High Peace Council and an adviser to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said reconciliation talks had been under way with insurgents for some time.
U.S. Sends New Elite Forces to Afghanistan As Drawdown Looms
The National Journal byYochi J. Dreazen
The Pentagon is quietly deploying a new detachment of Army Rangers to Afghanistan, increasing the number of elite U.S. commandos on the ground there as the Obama administration prepares to begin withdrawing conventional forces from the country this summer, military officials told National Journal.
This Attack is Different
UN Dispatch by Una Moore
Foreigners have been killed in Afghanistan before, and today’s attack was not the first fatal attack on UN staff. But it was different than previous fatal attacks. Very different. The killers were ordinary residents of a city deemed peaceful enough to be one of the first places transferred to the control of Afghan security forces. The men who broke into the UN compound, set fires and killed eight people weren’t Taliban, or henchmen of a brutal warlord, or members of a criminal gang. They weren’t even armed when the protests began –they took weapons from the UN guards who were their first victims.
Obama Vs. Petraeus: Round Two
The Nation by Robert Dreyfuss
Last week, at an event sponsored by the Century Foundation, I spoke to Gen. Douglas Lute, Obama’s top adviser on Afghanistan, who serves on the National Security Council in the White House. When I asked Lute about a suggestion from Larry Korb of the Center for American Progress that the 30,000 troops added by Obama in December, 2009, could be withdrawn within six months, starting in July, Lute said that taking out that many forces is at the very highest end of what the administration is thinking about, though he didn’t rule it out. Far more likely, Lute said, the White House will order the orderly withdrawal of the surge over 12 to 18 months.
America’s Costliest War- William Hartung
Huffington Post by William Hartung
The tax dollars being spent on Afghanistan are enough to offset the $100 billion per year that House Republicans are seeking to cut from next year's budget, or enough to fill the projected budget gaps of the 44 states that expect to run deficits in 2012. In other words, if the Afghan war ended and the funds allocated for it were returned to the states, no state in America would run a deficit next year.”
Al Qaeda returns to Afghanistan: Why is the U.S. failing to keep terrorists out of the country?
need to know on PBS by Josh Foust
The Journal’s story also brings up another angle to consider: the Special Forces. For the most part, the few, scattered Al Qaeda-allied compounds in northeastern Afghanistan have been tracked and monitored by small groups of elite soldiers — and not the large Army brigades that make up the 30,000 surge forces President Obama authorized last year. This would suggest that focusing more on these Special Forces troops – the “CT Approach,” as Vice-President Biden has called it – would be just as effective at disrupting Al Qaeda as the 100,000 soldiers currently there.
The Misleading Optics of Progress in Afghanistan
The National Interest by Paul Pillar
The counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is something like the elephant that was described differently by blind men touching different parts of the animal. Descriptions of the entire enterprise vary considerably, depending on what part of the effort whoever is offering the description has come to know directly. Some of the shaping of descriptions is motivated by self-interest; it is in the interest of a field commander, for example, to portray the situation he took over as a mess, and then to portray the situation later in his tour of duty as showing substantial progress.
Why It’s Time to Negotiate With the Taliban
The Atlantic by Daniel Serwer
News that the U.S. may negotiate with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan raises many questions, the most important of which is, should we, or shouldn't we? That question has generated a small cyberspace library of its own in recent weeks, with the consensus so far in favor. It is widely believed that there are at least informal official talks about talks going on behind closed doors. But should we harbor any continuing doubts? And what can we expect from negotiations?
The War in Afghanistan Comes Home to Camden
The Afghanistan Study Group by Will Keola
The United States is just days away from the first shutdown of its federal government in more than 15 years. Democrats and Republicans in Congress remain deadlocked over proposed spending cuts after months of political posturing and stopgap measures that have temporarily allowed the ship of state to steam ahead without an agreed upon budget. But the clock runs out this Friday at midnight and the prospects of a compromise being reached by that time look grim. Some economists are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize the country’s fragile economic recovery and increase the odds of a “double-dip” recession.