As we stumble towards war with Iran, I find a curious juxtaposition in the news on one of my military sites.
We'll start on the other side of the world; a place we invaded nearly two decades ago now. Despite everything, it seems that maybe this is one place where we're tired of war.
The United States and the Taliban will open fresh negotiations next week, the U.S. negotiator said Saturday, as he voiced hope for progress in ending America's longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative on Afghanistan, said the two sides would start their seventh round of talks on June 29.
"Based on my recent visits to Afghanistan and Qatar, I believe all sides want rapid progress," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.
The State Department, announcing Khalilzad's travel before the date of the latest talks were set, said the negotiations with the Taliban would take place as usual in Qatar.
Khalilzad is hoping to negotiate a deal under which the United States would withdraw troops first sent after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In turn, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a staging ground by Islamist extremists such as Al-Qaeda â€“ the main reason for the US invasion nearly two decades earlier.
The Taliban have refused U.S. appeals to end the violence to improve the atmosphere of talks, instead pressing on with their insurgency.
Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in a message for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr earlier this month said that the Taliban's "resistance against the occupation is nearing the stage of success."
It's anyone's guess, but as the story goes on to note, "President Donald Trump has voiced impatience with the war, believing there is no further reason to bear the cost in money or lives."
I find the Anal Fistula's statement to be curious though, when you compare it to actions elsewhere around the world this weekend.
Maybe he just wants to move the battle-hardened troops to someplace he thinks we should fight?
New U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran on Monday target Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior military leaders of the Islamic republic.
President Donald Trump slapped the sanctions on Tehran for what he described as its "aggressive behavior" including the shooting down of U.S. drone.
The White House said the sanctions "will deny Iran's leadership access to financial resources, blocking them from using the United States financial system or accessing any assets in the United States."
In addition to Khamenei, the US Treasury Department said it was taking action against eight senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
"These commanders sit atop a bureaucracy that supervises the IRGC's malicious regional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters, and its destabilizing presence in Syria," the Treasury Department said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States will also blacklist Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets.
"This action is a warning to officials at all levels of the IRGC and the rest of the Iranian regime that we will continue to sanction those who export violence, sabotage, and terrorism," Mnuchin said.
Funny thing - imposing sanctions and freezing assets is precisely what led the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor long ago. One can only wonder how this will end. Answer: Not well.
But finishing up locally - I'm sure you heard about the unspeakable tragedy that occurred over the weekend in far-off Randolph, NH? A pickup truck towing a trailer crashed into a group of ten motorcycles
belonging to a local veteran's group. 7 riders did not survive.
It took a couple of days, but the driver of the pickup truck was arrested and is facing at least manslaughter charges.
Packets believed to contain heroin residue were found in the West Springfield, Mass., residence of the driver charged with negligent homicide for the death of seven motorcyclists in Randolph, according to Massachusetts State Police.
State police discovered wax packets with the residue when the Fugitive Apprehension Unit went to the home of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of 90 Newbridge St., West Springfield, authorities said. Zhukovskyy has been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide for the seven deaths.
Zhukovskyy was arraigned Monday afternoon in Springfield District Court, where he waived extradition and was expected to be returned quickly to New Hampshire. His court appointed attorney asked that he not be interrogated until he receives legal representation in New Hampshire.
Zhukovskyy wore a designer Tommy Jeans T-shirt at the arraignment. His signed forms while in handcuffs and only answered questions posed by the judge. At least a half-dozen court bailiffs escorted him after the five-minute hearing.
Massachusetts State Police announced the discovery of the potential heroin packets in a statement announcing Zhukovskyy's arrest. If the residue tests positive for heroin, will be charged in Massachusetts with narcotics possession, Mass State Police said.
Local, state and federal authorities are still investigating the crash on U.S. Route 2 near Lowe's Garage, which was reported about 6:30 p.m. Friday.
According to New Hampshire State Police, a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck driven by Zhukovskyy was pulling a trailer and traveling west on Route 2 when it collided with several motorcycles heading east.
As it always seems to happen, the alleged drunk driver walked away without a scratch, leaving carnage in his wake. Just once I want to read, "The avulsed remains of the alleged drunk driver were scattered over several hundred yards of roadway. No one else was injured in the crash."