Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday in Kabul that the US might keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014 if asked to do so by the Afghanistan government. He thus reversed his earlier pledge that the US would be out of that country by that date, “come hell or high water.” He has been under pressure to qualify his earlier comment (presumably directed at his Democratic Party base domestically) because the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents are expected to attempt simply to wait out the US if they have fair confidence that it is on the way out. On the other hand, consistent policy is more likely to succeed.
Also in Kabul on Tuesday, a suicide bomber on motorbike killed 4 and wounded 31 when he sidled up next to a minibus carrying Afghan National Directory of Security staffers and detonated his payload. The explosion, near the Parliament building, shook the capital. That he was able to target that NDS minibus suggests to me that it was an inside job, and that someone somewhere in the Afghanistan government let the radical know when and where to attack. Such penetration of the Afghan security forces by Taliban or other insurgents is in turn highly disturbing. This bombing was the third in the capital in the past month, a worrisome sign. But even more unnerving was the successful assassination of a high intelligence official.
The Afghanistan government is claiming that the US military operation in Qandahar and its environs has cost $100 mn..