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Daily Observations for 10 December 2019

Daily Observations for 10 December 2019
December 10
16:19 2019

Good morning, and welcome to my Daily Observations.

On my radar: The “Afghanistan Papers”

By now, readers likely have heard about the bombshell report Monday regarding the “Afghanistan Papers” — thousands of documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by the Washington Post after a three-year court battle. Over 400 Pentagon leaders, generals, diplomats, aid workers and Afghan officials were interviewed about the progress and viability 18-year war, and in a nutshell, most said it wasn’t winnable, there was no coherent strategy, and the prosecution of the war over the years was, in the words of Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, dysfunctional. I spent a year on a combat tour in the ‘Stan doing route clearance back in 2009-10, and to me, the critiques ring true. My takeaway is this: Lying to the American people twice in two generations — the Vietnam war and now the Afghanistan war — is going to make it infinitely more difficult, politically, for our leaders to commit American forces to new combat zones abroad in the future, even for conflicts that we need to fight. That puts our legitimate national security interests in jeopardy because there may even be such a backlash from the public that forces President Trump to not only get out of Afghanistan (a good thing) but begin a period of isolationism (a bad thing). Time will tell, but I definitely see long-term political ramifications to all of this — some needed, some not.

What I’m also tracking:

Russia plans to set up Arctic air defense ‘dome’ with S-400 missiles [source]

Turkey cannot go back on NATO Poland-Baltics plan: Polish official [source]

US warplanes on Beijing’s radar in South China Sea, American air force chiefs say [source]

US suspects Iran is behind increasingly sophisticated rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq [source]

One final thing:

The rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea is heating up again: “A senior North Korean official has called US President Donald Trump a ‘heedless and erratic old man,’ the latest insult in an escalating war of words between the two countries. … It comes a day after Trump warned that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could ‘void’ their ‘special relationship’ following reports that the hermit nation conducted an ‘important’ test at a missile site.” [source]

Notable Quotable: “If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost…Who will say this was in vain?” — Retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute on the Afghanistan war.



About Author

Jon

Jon

Jonathan Davis holds a BA in political science and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis. He has 30 years' worth of experience reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy.

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