» The wages of war: When President Obama referred to a $1 trillion price tag for America’s wars in the last decade, he clearly hadn’t spoken to the folks running the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute. The project determined the above figure through calculations that included future costs, such as health services for wounded veterans returning home, as well as counting what’s generally referred to as our “secret” war in Pakistan.
» Why would they do such a thing? This attack, one of the more disturbing we’ve heard in a while, is shocking, but not an unheard-of tactic by insurgents looking to covering their tracks — and possibly because they’re desperate. Only the girl died, by the way.
» Quickening the pace: The above numbers represent a much quicker withdrawal than some of President Obama’s military advisers would like, General David Petraeus among them. This decision is being seen as a victory over Petraeus’ vision by Vice President Biden, who’s been a proponent of a more rapid end to American involvement in Afghanistan. The withdrawal would equal the total of Obama’s Afghanistan surge, to which he committed 30,000 troops back in 2009.
» That’s a little high for David Petraeus’ liking: Obama is putting the finishing touches on a speech where he plans to outline the plan for what the country will do about getting troops out of Afghanistan — roughly 100,000 are there now, and Obama could remove roughly 30,000 by late 2012 or early 2013 — the first 10,000 or so this year. Which means, of course, that we’ll still be there a long while no matter what our boy Obama decides.
The President has announced that this July will mark the beginning of a transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces. However, in my view the transition plan is too slow. We need to begin handing responsibility of security to Afghan forces immediately and aim to have most US combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. We should leave behind only a small force to hunt down and kill terrorists in Afghanistan, and to help the Afghan military perform their duties.Senator Max Baucus • Calling for both a quicker withdrawal of troops, and a quicker transfer of responsibility from the U.S. military to Afghan security forces. That these conversations are starting to crop up is unsurprising; the death of Osama bin Laden, the ostensible reason the U.S. entered Afghanistan to begin with, makes this the most politically opportune time to voice such sentiments. And while the concerns in leaving quicker are by no means negligible, with a government as steeped in corruption as the Afghanistan’s is, and under a leader like Hamid Karzai (famously volatile, takes bags of money from Iran, once threatened that he might join the Taliban), what is the ultimate definition of success for the U.S. involvement there? source (via • follow)