Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iraq/Afghanistan Round: Tuesday Edition

First the Afghanistan round-up, via the Associated Press:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Violent anti-foreigner protests raged across the capital Monday after a U.S. military truck crashed into traffic, touching off the worst rioting since the Taliban's ouster. At least eight people died and 107 were injured before Kabul's streets calmed.

Chanting "Death to America," rioters stoned the U.S. convoy involved in the accident then headed to the center of town, ransacking offices of international aid groups and searching for foreigners in a display of rising resentment over civilian deaths in the war against insurgents.

Gunfire, at times intense, rang out across Kabul as hundreds of young men looted shops and set fire to police cars and station houses. Some people said U.S. and Afghan troops fired on the crowds. Officials said they couldn't say whether that happened.

The U.S.-backed Afghan government decreed a nighttime curfew and the city quieted before sunset. Yousuf Stanezai, an Interior Ministry spokesman, warned that anyone found outside between 10 p.m and 4 a.m. would suffer "serious measures."

Now the Iraq round-up, via the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, May 29 — The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

Although some soldiers from the 3,500-member brigade in Kuwait have moved into Iraq in recent months, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has decided to send in the remainder of the unit after consultations with Iraqi officials in recent days, the officials said.

The confirmation that the number of American forces in Iraq would grow came on a day of soaring violence in Baghdad. Two Britons working as members of a CBS News television crew were killed on Monday and an American correspondent for the network was critically wounded when a military patrol they were accompanying was hit by a roadside bomb.

The movement of the brigade comes as several senior American officials in Iraq have begun to raise doubts about whether security conditions there will permit significant troop reductions in coming months.

Anti-American riots in Afghanistan and an increase in insurgent attacks in Western Iraq do not bode well for Karl Rove's election year stategy of drawing down troop levels before the November midterms.

If both the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and the sectarian violence/chaos in Iraq continues and George W. Bush announces troop drawdowns before the November midterms anyway, whatever credibility schmucko's got left (and it ain't much) will disappear. He has repeated numerous times that he's against any troop withdrawls from Iraq until we're on a "path to victory." I'm not sure what the "path to victory" looks like, but I don't think the current situation is it. And if Bush decides to pull troops out despite the increasing insurgence attacks at his political consultants behest, I think the move will backfire for Republicans come November. Americans can tell whether the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting better or getting worse and I doubt they will be fooled by bullshit pronouncements from the administration/RNC claiming victory and announcing troop withdrawls in October.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. I supported the Afghanistan war and I wanted the United States and its NATO allies to finish the mission of rebuilding the country. I did not support the Iraq war and I continue to think it was the biggest mistake the U.S. has made in foreign policy in a long, long time. Nonetheless, now that we are stuck in both countries and MUST quell insurgencies and rebuild infrastructure, we ought to be trying to complete those missions as best we can. Enough of this half-assed semi-occupation. Either send another 300,000 troops into Iraq (even if you have to institute a draft to do it) and really take it to the insurgency (while also insuring safety across the country) or pull the fuck out completely. But the way the administration is currently handling the war, sending in just enough troops to keep the entire country from blowing up but not nearly enough numbers to really have an impact, is insane. What results do they really expect to get by half-assing this whole thing?

I do look forward to the day we get back to kicking the political football around, without constant 'bloody' conflicts intervening.
It's one thing to have fun at the expense of a few fairly worthless bastards, but these a real lives they are destroying now.
It almost makes the crass, greedy corruption acceptable if there are no wars attached to it.
Carledge is making me long for the days of S and L scandals.

I agree with your analysis RBE. Unfortunately there is not the political will to carry it through (and there is part of me that remembers 500,000 troops in Viet Nam).

To leave would mean almost ceratinly an instant full-scale civil war, a Shiite regime with a yet unknown level of fundamentalism coming to power, and a generally autonomous Kurd region which would almost certainly boil over into a greater conflict with Turkey and of course, Iran.

So they are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
Our presence in Iraq is just gasoline on the fire. We have to get out and let the UN take over.
cartledge, you're absolutely right. I wish the crass, greedy corrupt people had yoor morals. But then I guess they wouldn't be crass, greedy people if they did have your morals.

praguetwin, obviously the answer was not to invade in the first place. But now that we're there in our fourth year and things are quickly going south, I wish some adults in Washington would say, "You know what? We fucked this up. We miscaculated the number of troops we'd need, we miscaculated the ferocity of the insurgency, we miscaculated the Sunni/Shia/Kurd divide. But we're going to try and learn from those miscalculations and do this thing right. It's going to take more money and more troops, but we have to make this thing right." But of course, that would take guts, something most of the chickenhawk supporters of this war don't have.

abi, when the U.S. pulls out, I don't think the UN is going to take over. Chaos will take over instead. Iran will run the south, the Sunni middle will be absolute chaos, and the Kurdish north will be warily looking at Turkey above them and the chaos below them. You're right to say that the US presence is fanning the flames of the insurgency but as praguetwin notes in his comments, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place - we stay and men and women continue to die in a stupid war that didn't have to be fought, if we leave we create a destabilized nation that could very well destabilize much of the rest of the region. Infuriating that the boys and girls running the nation didn't think about this stuff beforehand.
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