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Sore about Tora Bora

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

The New Republic publishes a must-read account of the battle of Tora Bora where Osama bin Laden reportedly narrowly escaped.

What really happened at Tora Bora? Not long after the battle ended, the answer to that question would become extremely clouded. Americans perceived the Afghan war as a stunning victory, and the failure at Tora Bora seemed like an unfortunate footnote to an otherwise upbeat story. By 2004, with George W. Bush locked in a tough reelection battle, some U.S. officials were even asserting, inaccurately, that bin Laden himself may not have been present at the battle.

The real history of Tora Bora is far more disturbing. Having reconstructed the battle–based on interviews with the top American ground commander, three Afghan commanders, and three CIA officials; accounts by Al Qaeda eyewitnesses that were subsequently published on jihadist websites; recollections of captured survivors who were later questioned by interrogators or reporters; an official history of the Afghan war by the U.S. Special Operations Command; an investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and visits to the battle sites themselves–I am convinced that Tora Bora constitutes one of the greatest military blunders in recent U.S. history.

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Galbraith fires off

October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

In The Washington Post, Peter Galbraith shares his point of view on Afghanistan and his dismissal.

Afghanistan’s presidential election, held Aug. 20, should have been a milestone in the country’s transition from 30 years of war to stability and democracy. Instead, it was just the opposite. As many as 30 percent of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates. In several provinces, including Kandahar, four to 10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast. The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.

Galbraith concerned over Afghan fraud; fired.

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Peter Galbraith, the deputy UN special representative for Afghanistan, “was removed from his post Wednesday after an open clash with the head of the United Nations mission,” the New York Times reports.

The two men have clashed repeatedly, United Nations officials said, and their different approaches came to a head over the vote recount after the Aug. 20 Afghan presidential election. Mr. Galbraith demanded a total recount, but then left Afghanistan and retreated to his Vermont farm.

[…]

Mr. Galbraith said, the issue was that the United Nations mission had gathered extensive evidence of fraud in the Afghan presidential vote, particularly from ghost polling stations, which Mr. Eide chose not to share with Afghan election institutions.
I’m a big personal fan of Peter Galbraith. Here’s a link to his book, which I can’t recommend enough.

Christopher Hitchens back in 2007 considers some of the themes of that book here for Slate.

His latest book, The End of Iraq, is notable for two things. First, it gives one of the most acute and intimate portraits of the Bush administration’s catastrophic mismanagement of the intervention. Second, it proposes a serious program for a radical change in policy. What are our irreducible objectives in Iraq? To prevent the country and its enormous resources from falling into the hands of the enemies of civilization—most notably al-Qaida—and to protect what remains of the secular and democratic alliance that we once hoped might emerge to govern the situation.

h.t. “Eli Larson”
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