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Afghanistan Disaster in the Making

by Keith Koffler on October 27, 2010, 7:57 am

An amazing story in the New York Times a couple of days ago revealed that Iran has totally infiltrated the Afghan leadership, giving Karzai’s chief of staff BULGING sacks of money.

Somebody make this Afghanistan thing stop!

Karzai’s completely defiant reaction to the piece – admitting his misbehavior and asking, “So what?” – indicates things ain’t likely to change.

And for good reason: Pakistan – which continues to support the Taliban – and Afghanistan are hedging their bets, well aware that the American penchant for crapping on a country and then wandering off is doubly likely in this case, because President Obama HAS SAID THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE’RE DOING.

The president’s December 2009 announcement that we will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in what is now about nine months – July 2011 – has made a clear difference in bolstering Taliban morale and it’s determination to wait out the United States, allowing it to withstand Obama’s surge, as a Washington Post article today makes clear.

Here are a couple of quotes from the piece, titled Taliban Unscathed by Military Campaign.

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

U.S. officials said Taliban operatives have adopted a refrain that reflects their focus on President Obama’s intent to start withdrawing troops in the middle of next year. Attributing the words to Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, officials said, operatives tell one another, “The end is near.”

Setting a deadline, by the way, is exactly what Bush avoided in Iraq, where a similar surge rescued a situation that seemed beyond repair.

Obama has justified the withdrawal date by saying it was meant to put pressure on Karzai to shape up. But he must have known last December that Karzai was in bed with Iran. The “deadline” will only move him closer to Iran and the Taliban in a desperate bid to save himself.

What the deadline is really all about, as the Taliban knows, is a president with little stomach for this fight, who WANTS OUT of Afghanistan.

Obama’s outreach to Iran was further evidence to Karzai of the weakness of his new American ally, writes Faoud Ajami in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Karzai didn’t need to be a grand strategist. He had, as is necessary in his world of treachery and betrayal, his ear to the ground, his scent for the irresolution of the Obama administration. He saw the scorn of Iran’s cruel leaders for America’s diplomatic approaches. He could see Iranian power extend all the way to the Mediterranean, right up to Israel’s borders with Lebanon and to Gaza. The Iranians were next door and the Americans were giving away their fatigue. Why not accept the entreaties from Tehran?

I always thought that after Vietnam we were only supposed to fight wars if we intended to win them. And, you know, after Hitler, we’d treat really bad guys like the villains they are, and assume they just use outreach to further their evil ends.

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Brett October 27, 2010 at 10:09 am

I fought in Afghanistan
I’ve studied Afghanistan
And if memory serves, I got shot in Afghanistan
I’ve met Hamid Karzai and he is actually an intelligent, honest guy but what do you expect wedged between Paki and Iran with the US fleeing? If we don’t finish what we started someone else will.
We’ll claim success as that last C-17 flies away and the country bursts into flames (again) under a news black-out. We knew this was going to happen and the Tali did too.
…and all those dead dudes…
Obama really sucks, y’know?

Anonna October 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

So, is Obama incompetent or trying to destroy us?

Bruce October 27, 2010 at 11:36 am

Who is Tehran endangering by keeping Karzai lubricated with pocket change? For one, the fellows U.S. troops are fighting: the Taliban. The NYT piece is “alarming” because in part over Karzai’s use of some of the Iran money to buy off Taliban leaders? So what? Tehran’s support for Karzai is clear evidence Iran wants him to succeed, a goal shared by the U.S.

Despite all that the story isn’t a big deal to begin with. Even neo-cons like Ann Marlowe, who in NYT online symposium (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/10/25/what-does-irans-cash-buy-in-afghanistan/what-money-wont-buy), admitted this revelation means little because Iran has about as much influence over Karzai’s policies these days as the U.S. – and that ain’t much.

Star October 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

What does “win” mean?

srdem65 October 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Afganistan is not even equal to 3rd world status: it’s nothing more than a collection of competing 15th century tribes who allow Karzai to pretend he’s leading their country as long as he divvies up the treasure.

The US military machine is waging 21st century war against uneducated goat-herders who wear rags on their heads instead of helmets.

Our national security and interests would be better served if our troops returned to the US and protected us here from US terrorists.

Star October 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm

You know Keith and I disagree on this. This disaster has been in the making for the whole 9 yrs. This is a failed, corrupt narcostate (shored up by the CIA for a while and probably still). It has never been conquered, superpowers or no. They fight. They like to. They have fighting season. Now we are going to train police to watch Karzai–we have been training police the whole nine yrs, the way I got it. There are other places our enemies can amass. I believe they are in 110 countries. It makes me absolutely sick to think of the young people lost or mained in this, not to mention the Afghanis. Staying or shillyshalling or feeding into more troops is not going to help! Even our generals say it would be 10 yrs…yeah, based on what?

Apropos of nothing, I read a Tweet from Adm Mullen–he tweets. I need a nap..

Brett October 28, 2010 at 8:27 am

Well put, Kieth
(I’m such a Suck-up)
I was in Iraq as well and recall the Establishment Media painting it as a “hopeless case” filled with irreconcilable caliphs who’ve been fighitng since the 7th Century, etc..
Nothing is hopeless if there is political will.
The Tet Offensive broke the military back of the Viet Cong and NVA even as it’s violence broke our political will. We had them – General Giap said so years later.
Now is not the time to leave

Keith Koffler October 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

Brett, thanks. I agree, if war is the continuation of politics by other means as Clausewitz says, then political will is the key to success. I’m just reading a bio of Churchill which describes how he helped created the political will to resist in England – will that was lacking in France, which was actually militarily strong. And yes, the Tet Offensive is one of the most misunderstood events in the history of war.

Thanks for you service, Brett, and your unique view of the situation gained from actually being there.

Keith Koffler October 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Everyone,

I know we have varying views on Afghanistan, and I don’t begrudge anyone at all who disagrees with me. We’re all coming from the same place – what’s best for this country. But for me, retreat, which is where we are headed, is a big mistake.

I feel that with this ignominy and Vietnam in our background, we will be viewed as a fatally unreliable and untrustworthy ally; that our enemies will view us as weak and bring the attack from Afghanistan forward to new arenas; that allies who trusted us in Afghanistan will all lose their heads; that Afghanistan will be in the grip of barbaric Islamism and many will suffer, particularly women; and that al Qaeda and other enemies will have a wonderful new staging ground from which to plan our destruction.

I don’t feel this is an impossible task. Afghanistan was peaceful and united for decades before the Soviets destroyed the country. Winning loyalties and solidifying a national army would indeed take many years. But I feel that with a true show of force, a promise of sustained commitment, and a counterinsurgency and rebuilding program that brought the population to our side, we would prevail. And I don’t think it would take long before we could have started to draw down our troops, once the enemy knew we were serious, as happened in Iraq, the previous “hopeless” case.