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Afghanistan

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Scott Horton's Afghanistan primer will impress both casual readers and experts
I was one of the first American officials to arrive in Kabul at the end of 2001. The war that seemed to be ending back then is currently in its 16th year with no end in sight, and for those of us who were there at the beginning it now sometimes seems like it was... Read More
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The White House is pushing hard to keep a significant number of American soldiers in Afghanistan contrary to President Barack Obama’s earlier pledge to have then all out by the end of 2014. As the United States President has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar that failure to connect promises made in 2008 with... Read More
There was a special Christmas Eve treat in the Washington Post – an op ed by the redoubtable Max Boot explaining why the United States needs to leave a substantial military force in Afghanistan after 2014. Russian-born Boot is a leading neoconservative who currently perches at the Council on Foreign Relations, but he also writes... Read More
Washington punts in Afghanistan
Washington’s playbook has been reduced to “drop back and punt” in Afghanistan. Everybody knows that there have been on-again off-again talks to obtain a political settlement, but there has been much speculation over what exactly is taking place since the Taliban ostensibly ended negotiations in March over U.S. hesitation to release five senior prisoners held... Read More
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has an interesting column entitled “Framework to end the Afghan war.” Ignatius is usually well wired into the White House, not to mention the intelligence community and Pentagon. His column describes how talks are underway to “narrow each side’s demands” to “irreducible essentials” so that a graceful withdrawal of NATO... Read More
I must admit that I did not know that the category of “major non-NATO ally” even existed before Hillary Clinton declared Afghanistan to be one on Saturday in Kabul. At first I thought that she might be talking about something like "Animal House’s" double-secret probation, but according to press coverage, “The list of major non-NATO... Read More
In March 1282, the French King Charles of Anjou, a protégé of the Pope in Rome, controlled southern Italy and Sicily. On the Vigil of Easter a drunken French sergeant began to bother a young married woman at a festival in a village near Palermo. Her husband killed the sergeant just as the church bells... Read More
The news media today are reporting how seven US servicemen who were training Afghan security forces were wounded in a grenade attack carried out at a base in Afghanistan, presumably by one of their students. That is on top of two US Army officers murdered while advising an Afghan government ministry two days ago and... Read More
In the wake of the killing of four of its soldiers by an Afghan soldier, France has suspended all military operations in Afghanistan. Today's New York Times features an article entitled “Afghan Soldiers Step Up Killing of Allied Forces” that begins "American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the... Read More
US Ambassador Ryan Crocker apparently believes that a Taliban twenty-hour assault on Kabul’s diplomatic quarter in which twenty-seven people died is “no big deal.” Maybe not for him but it was apparently a big deal for the Afghans who were killed. Crocker, who has always known just what to say to make reality go away... Read More
The neoconservatives truly seem to inhabit a world that differs significantly from the place where the rest of us dwell. David Brooks has yet another astonishing piece in the New York Times, explaining that it is an unreasonable desire on the part of the American people to live forever that is driving up Medicare costs... Read More
Complaints that the CIA has on its payroll numerous Afghan officials are misplaced. Questioning the war itself and the multi billion dollar sinkhole that it has become is one thing, but once you have a president who has committed the nation to wallowing in that quagmire forever, you have to do what you can to... Read More
I keep looking for deeper meaning in the World Cup, particularly as General McChrystal reportedly called his band of Myrmidons "Team America." This morning reigning champion Italy played Slovakia. As I am mezzo Italiano and polovicny Slovensko I was somewhat torn in expressing any preference at all. I looked for clues in the two national... Read More
The tragic deaths of seven CIA officers in Afghanistan has produced some very confusing press commentary. Initial reports suggested that the officers based in Khost were clandestine service officers out recruiting informants under very dangerous circumstances. That is almost certainly not so as the Agency generally has protocols in place in both Iraq and Afghanistan... Read More
The Wash Post had an article today describing how an Arlington middle school had canceled a mock UN discussion in which one team would represent the Taliban point of view. At least one parent had objected, saying it was an "abuse of the academic freedom that we all cherish." Apparently we don't cherish academic freedom... Read More
Today's Wash Post has a headline article on Afghanistan which notes that a major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province earlier this year was "slowed" due to "political pressure from the Afghan government." Confirmation that Afghanistan's so-called government has only limited authority over a war being fought on its own territory rather suggests that... Read More
President Obama has told visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he will "finish the job" in Afghanistan and wipe out every last lurking terrorist. "Finish the job" is one of those expressions that politicians use a lot when they don't know what the hell they are talking about. It is widely believed that Obama... Read More
The NYT's story about how the CIA has had Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali on the payroll for much of the past eight years is intended to shock because Ahmed Wali has frequently been linked to drug trafficking. Well, he is also linked to his brother, which is why he is important. As... Read More
This morning I came across the Kipling poem "Arithmetic on the Frontier," which I had probably not read since college. It was written in 1886 after the Second Afghan War. A scrimmage in a Border Station— A canter down some dark defile— Two thousand pounds of education Drops to a ten-rupee jezail— The Crammer's boast,... Read More
The indefatigable Kagans, Fred and Kimberly, have again been given a bully pulpit to sell their particular brand of snake oil regarding Afghanistan. Today's Washington Post op ed page featured a piece called "The Afghan Illusion," http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/11/AR2009091103625.html. Not surprisingly, the article advocates more US soldiers. I have no time for the Kagans and their nonsense... Read More
There has been a running commentary in the Wash Post regarding Afghanistan. It started two days ago with a George Will op-ed called "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan" http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2009/09/no_will_no_way.html. Will basically accepted that the war is being lost and indeed might be unwinnable in any conventional sense because it is really all about nation... Read More
I don't want to promote another website, particularly Huffpost, but this analysis by former CIA Station Chief Graham Fuller is must reading. Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/graham-e-fuller/global-viewpoint-obamas-p_b_201355.html
On Tuesday US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke was in Islamabad complaining that Washington knows almost nothing about the Taliban. He then went on to explain that the Taliban consists of a hard core supported by a large lumpen mass that is not very religious and which can be separated from the... Read More
I suppose that one has to accept that the US has a clear national interest to eliminate Usama bin Laden, even if al-Qaeda currently appears to be incapable of pulling off large terrorist attacks a la 9/11. I am guardedly optimistic about the Obama plan for Afghanistan-Pakistan even if it does smell a lot like... Read More
The Associated Press is reporting: "President Hamid Karzai pressed America's top military leader Monday on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan as it prepares to pour up to 30,000 more forces into the country. Karzai asked Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what kinds of operations the newly deployed troops would... Read More
The New York Times had a lead editorial today entitled "Afghanistan on Fire." It was a "something must be done" presentation that attempted to define four or five things that can fix Afghanistan based on the premise that if Washington fails the "more freedom al-Qaeda will have to mount new terrorist operations against this country..."... Read More
I have been reliably informed that the CIA added two new stars to the wall of its entranceway about three weeks ago, signifying that two more clandestine service officers have been killed in action. Both died while searching for Osama bin Laden along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The ceremony adding the stars was... Read More
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Philip Giraldi
About Philip Giraldi

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren.


Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.