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Afghan fighting - the latest reports.

A deeply complex and nuanced situation I've always thought our blood and treasure would have been better spent arming every member of the population to the teeth with grenades handguns ak's and rpgs on the basis that if the Taliban want to ride into town and chuck poofs off the roof and do some general raping and killing for example the victims can go down fighting. Other atrocities are available. Either that or leave them to it.
I'd like to be the first person to congratulate our Minister for Foreign Affairs for his succinct summary of good policy in respect of the situation in Afghanistan ^~
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Yup.

Seems to me to be in line with the facts.

Bummer, ain't it.

How would you know? As your last few posts show, you don't even have a passing familiarity with the facts.

Maybe it'd be best if you left the discussion to those with at least some knowledge of the subject. It would make the thread much better.
 
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Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
That's you ruled out then :-D

This zinger would probably work better if it didn't follow several pages of me explaining basic facts about the campaign to you. As it is, it looks a little misplaced.

Anyway, back on thread:

Ghani has given an interview to the BBC. It's mostly just fairly generic comments about the need for a peace process, but it does make it clear that he's waiting for all hell to break loose once May 1st passes either with or without NATO still in Afghanistan.

 
Taleban may not go away but the means to defeat them is available if we have enough patience. COIN takes time.
Anthony Cordesman has been pretty much on the money since before this thread was born. Here's a piece of his latest:
"What is clear—in spite of the Trump effort to classify or cease reporting on key facts—is that:​
  • As of mid-January, the Afghan government and the Taliban have still not agreed on any aspect of the definition of “Islamic” to be used in shaping the government, rule of law, education, or any aspect of civil life—or that the religious interpretations of the other side could legitimately be described as Islamic.
  • Fighting and targeted killings go on throughout the country, and the Taliban tends to win in the countryside. Plus, it is steadily increasing its control outside major population centers. As a CRS report in November 2020 noted, “By many measures, the Taliban are in a stronger military position now than at any point since 2001, though many once-public metrics related to the conduct of the war have been classified or are no longer produced.”
  • The United States has stopped reporting on Taliban gains in controlling territory and the population, but the most respected source of estimates—the Long War Journal—reports that the Taliban controls 75 of the 398 Districts in Afghanistan that it reports on and contests 187 more. The Taliban controls 4.6 million Afghans and contests control for 13 million more. The Afghan central government still holds all major cities and is credited with authority over 15.2 million people, but this figure is somewhat meaningless since the central government does not really fully control many districts that are under regional politicians and power brokers—and the Taliban still makes regular attacks in Kabul.
  • The only reason the Taliban does not control far more territory and at least some population centers has been attributed to the level of past support the Afghan forces have received from U.S. airpower and U.S. allied support, especially to Afghan ground forces. U.S. and allied funding supports virtually the entire Afghan government’s military, police, and local security forces.
  • The Afghan forces are making slow progress in some areas, but it is all too clear from the quarterly reporting by the Lead Inspector General (LIG) of the Department of Defense and the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that the Afghan forces are not ready to stand on their own. It is also clear that the Afghan government’s security efforts have major flaws and that Afghan forces cannot survive without indefinite dependence on U.S. aid funds.
  • More broadly, a deeply divided Afghan central government—dominated by leaders more interested in competing for power than the nation’s future—cannot govern or make effective use of its funding, most of which comes from U.S. and outside aid. The political structure of the Afghan central government remains a corrupt and divided mess. The World Bank rates the Afghan government as one of the worst in the world as well as one of the most corrupt.
  • SIGAR reported on November 6, 2020, that,
Corruption has substantially undermined the U.S. mission in Afghanistan from the very beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. We have previously reported that corruption cuts across all aspects of the reconstruction effort, jeopardizing progress made in security, rule of law, governance, and economic growth. We are concerned that a failure to effectively address the problem of systemic corruption as the coalition presence shrinks, while the Afghan government continues to rely on donor assistance to protect the fragile gains of the 19-year mission, would mean that U.S. reconstruction programs, at best, will continue to be subverted by systemic corruption and, at worst, will fail.​
The rule of law is so weak that nearly half of Afghanistan’s District governments do not even have a prosecutor.​
  • The Afghan economy has effectively imploded under the strain of war, Covid-19, misgovernment, and corruption. The World Bank reported in October 2020 that,
The basic needs poverty rate was 55 percent at the time of the last household survey (2016/17) and is expected to have worsened after the COVID-19 pandemic that hugely impacted the living condition of households. The economy is expected to contract by up to five percent in 2020 with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 virus overshadowing improvements in weather conditions. Additional substantial downside risks remain, including political instability, deterioration of security conditions, premature reduction in aid flows, and further adverse regional economic or political developments. Poverty is expected to remain high, driven by weak labor demand and security-related constraints on service delivery.​
  • There are no current prospects for the development of an Afghan economy that can stand on its own. Aside from outside aid, Afghanistan’s only major source of hard currency is narcotics—a stream of income dominated by the Taliban and regional power brokers rather than the central government.
  • There is far less progress to preserve human rights than most reporting indicates. Civil and human rights progress has been real, but far too many of the data on civil progress in areas such as the rights of women, education, rule of law, and health are dubious at best or have badly dated estimates."
FULL ANALYSIS:

MORE:


. . . . me explaining basic facts about the campaign . . . .


laughing-cartoon-you-want-it-when.jpg
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
This is beautiful. You've used an article that disagrees with your argument that Afghanistan is a totally lost cause, and partly agrees with my position that there is a potential path to success. I was originally going to go through the bullets in your post and point out that they aren't incompatible with my position, but then I realized that the author of the article had done that for me. You didn't read all the way down the page, did you? Schoolboy...

As you clearly haven't read it, I'll precis the last few paragraphs for you: Cordesman says that the US should set firm conditions on staying because there is a potential path to success if the peace process improves, and that it should be prepared to walk away if those conditions aren't met. I think he slightly under-plays some of the risks of withdrawal, including the risk that Afghanistan turns into a haven for terrorism that necessitates another intervention, but his position is definitely reasonable.

My view is that the kind of conditions based withdrawal he advocates is the right approach, but that the US needs to act as the guarantor of the peace process for a while before they can say it's completely failed and give it up as a bad job. If they do choose to leave, the US also needs to weigh up just how bad it looks to abandon a country to the kind of human rights abuses that the Taleban will perpetrate, not to mention the human cost.
 
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This is beautiful. You've used an article that disagrees with your argument that Afghanistan is a totally lost cause, and partly agrees with my position that there is a potential path to success. I was originally going to go through the bullets in your post and point out that they aren't incompatible with my position, but then I realized that the author of the article had done that for me. You didn't read all the way down the page, did you? Schoolboy...

As you clearly haven't read it, I'll precis the last few paragraphs for you: Cordesman says that the US should set firm conditions on staying because there is a potential path to success if the peace process improves, and that it should be prepared to walk away if those conditions aren't met. I think he slightly under-plays some of the risks of withdrawal, including the risk that Afghanistan turns into a haven for terrorism that necessitates another intervention, but his position is definitely reasonable.

My view is that the kind of conditions based withdrawal he advocates is the right approach, but that the US needs to act as the guarantor of the peace process for a while before they can say it's completely failed and give it up as a bad job. If they do choose to leave, the US also needs to weigh up just how bad it looks to abandon a country to the kind of human rights abuses that the Taleban will perpetrate, not to mention the human cost.
as US President, would you prefer to explain to the electorate lots of dead Aghans, or lots of dead US troops?
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
as US President, would you prefer to explain to the electorate lots of dead Aghans, or lots of dead US troops?

In purely electoral terms it's easier just to pull everyone out. But national leaders have other considerations, both short and long term - the electoral maths is important but you can't govern effectively just by counting votes.

Right now Biden has a number of things to consider: votes, US military lives, US expenditure, afghan lives and human rights, US prestige, the CT threat. All those need to be considered against the range of possible outcomes for Afghanistan and how likely those are to be achieved.

He's got to do a similar calculation for Iraq/Syria as well, although that situation is much more politically messy.
 
Right now Biden has a number of things to consider: votes, US military lives, US expenditure, afghan lives and human rights, US prestige, the CT threat. All those need to be considered against the range of possible outcomes for Afghanistan and how likely those are to be achieved.
And after he's finished doing all that, he'll continue withdrawing the USA from the place :thumleft:
 
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