The New York Times reports: For the first time in six years the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan declined, according to the annual United Nations report on civilian casualties. The decline was primarily the result of the slowing pace of the war; more fighting by Afghan forces, who use less lethal weapons; and an assiduous effort by the Western-led forces to reduce the impact on civilians, the report indicated. Nevertheless, threats remained rife: roadside bombings increased slightly, as did targeted killings and episodes of intimidation, the report said.
In other news:
The Times also reports that Obama administration officials are considering reopening debate about whether to arm Syria’s rebels, a proposition President Obama dismissed last year.
The Washington Post reports: The Iranian-backed Shiite group responsible for most of the attacks against U.S. forces in the final years of the Iraq war is busily reinventing itself as a political organization in ways that could enhance Iran’s influence in post-American Iraq — and perhaps beyond.
While the sequester is not the best way to go about cuts to military spending, the Friends Committee on National Legislation released a video last week that counters all the hysteria that they’ll be “catastrophic”: