“Muddled Thinking” on Afghanistan

"Many Afghans are angry over incidents including the February 2012 accidental burning of hundreds of copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, a March 2012 shooting spree by a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan that killed 16 people, and unintended civilian deaths from U.S. bombs. The night raids are particularly offensive because they are perceived as violating the sanctity of women in the house despite U.S. claims that they are a useful tool in killing insurgent leaders. The other sticking point is legal immunity — an issue that was a deal breaker during failed negotiations over a similar deal in Iraq before U.S. forces withdrew from that country in December 2011. Karzai's National Security Adviser Rangin Dafdar Spanta told lawmakers at a weekend briefing that the U.S. position was clear: If Washington doesn't get jurisdiction over its soldiers and civilian personnel, it won't sign the agreement, and it won't leave any U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan when international combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014. Hakimullah Mujahed, one of the Loya Jirga's organizers, said "the security agreement with the U.S. has to be in the framework of the Afghan constitution." "The trial of foreign soldiers accused of killing innocent Afghans or committing crimes against Afghanistan should be tried in an Afghan court. That's very important," he added."  Boston Herald


Barry McCaffery told Chuck Todd of MSNBC this morning that the proposed Afghan security agreement reflects "muddled thinking" in terms of the foolishness of leaving a necessarily embattled remnant in a "vast and hostile country."  He also pointed out the fact that the remnant would be 800 miles from the sea and the US Navy.  I could not agree more.  The fate of the British mission at Kabul in 1879 comes to mind.  Major Sir Louis Cavagnari and his escort of soldiers from the Guides were wiped out to the last man after a pitched battle with a Kabul mob.  McCaffery insisted that there are no important US security interests in Afghananistan.  Once agsin,  I agree.  The civil war in Afghanistan is an intra-Pushtun war.  It is not a war against the shattered AQ who once were a powerful force in the country.

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to Obama, then made an appearance to deny that the agreement is a  political fig leaf to cover the embarassment of Afghan/American looting of our aid money and yet another defeat endured in the name of the failed COIN philosophy.  He made it clear that if the agreement is signed, the US will continue to "bleed" billions of dollars into Afghanistan.  At the same time he left open the possibility that the US will "pocket" the agreement and withdraw all but a small group of advisers. This scenario would ensure the continuation of the process of embezzlement that has persisted for so long.

Let us hope that the Afghans will save us from the folly of further particiapation in their civil war.  pl



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10 Responses to “Muddled Thinking” on Afghanistan

  1. Charles I says:

    The latest that should inspire many tizzies:
    Karzai wants Obama to admit military mistakes in Afghanistan
    Tag: Hamid Karzai, Barack Obama, Afghanistan, US troops, US soldiers
    Last Updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 14:42
    New York: Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants a letter written by US President Barack Obama that will acknowledge military mistakes made during 12-year war in his country in return for allowing American counterterrorism raids on private Afghan homes, a media report said.
    Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi has said the letter would be tantamount to an apology, though not directly using that word, a report in the New York Times said.
    In return for a letter from Obama, that will be a display of contrition by the President for military mistakes that have hurt Afghans, Karzai would end his strong opposition to American counterterrorism raids on private Afghan homes, an issue that has become very contentious between the two allies.
    Once the conditions are met, the way would be cleared for an agreement to keep a smaller American troop force in the country after the 2014 drawdown.

  2. An additional proviso would give the US more leverage. Documentation exist US hands that the Karzai Family stole not only money but the last election!
    So take the Karzai brothers with US to protect them when we pull out!

  3. robt willmann says:

    The Washington Post newspaper now says that an agreement has been made to give U.S. government military and civilian persons immunity from prosecution under Afghan law: “What was considered the most substantive hurdle — whether U.S. troops would have immunity from prosecution by Afghan courts in the event of wrongdoing — was settled with language saying that the United States would have legal jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel and Defense Department civilians.”
    The Wash. Post article also mentions the proposed letter that would “apologize” for the U.S. killing of civilians. Perhaps in a little subtle slap to the administration, the writer of the article lists a few previous times (2008 to 2011) the U.S. has apologized for killing innocents, implying that the policy is to apologize but keep on killing innocents.
    But the active Susan Rice, the Nat’l. Security Advisor, appeared on CNN yesterday or today saying that “there is no need for the U.S. to apologize to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary ….” The reports of the alleged “letter” are “a complete misunderstanding of what the situation is,” Ms. Rice says.
    On the other hand, Brian Cloughley, a former soldier who has written two books about the Pakistan military, says that the U.S. is trying to bribe members of the Loya Jirga so that they will vote in favor of the “status of forces” agreement.
    But at least one of the intermediaries who was to deliver some money kept it for himself!
    Mr. Cloughley’s website is here–

  4. turcopolier says:

    Robert Willman
    I sure hope that the Post is just logrolling. The day the agreement is signed is the day I begin to agitate against it. pl

  5. FB Ali says:

    What has been published (on the website of the Afghan Foreign Ministry) is the agreed draft text, ie, Afghan and US officials have OK’d this text. It still hasn’t been accepted by Karzai or the Afghan govt (or the US).
    What it does show is that, for the present, Karzai has agreed to the US trying its own soldiers instead of the Afghans doing it. The big hurdle of night raids on Afghan homes remains unresolved.
    It is still uncertain whether the Loya Jirga and the Afghan parliament will approve the proposed agreement thus enabling Karzai to sign it — if he doesn’t change his mind and raise further issues.

  6. VietnamVet says:

    The privatization of the DOD raises the strange question if the thousands contractors still in Iraq and Afghanistan are representatives of the USA or are they leftovers to be tossed aside.
    A Google search found this web site;
    It indicates that there are about 8,449 contractors left in Iraq, 2,356 of them are American citizens. Corporate media portrays that country on the verge of Sunni Shiite civil war with no American interests left since our troop’s departure. The possibility of a repeat invasion to rescue these contractors is never mentioned.
    Extracting the 33,444 American contractors in the middle of the Hindu Kush Mountain Range safely would be even more unlikely once our troops and air support are gone.

  7. The beaver says:

    This is what happening with respect to the nuclear negotiation in Geneva
    However, listening to the French news tonight, France seems to say that the negotiation lasted only 10 minutes because the Ayatollah said:
    “Les fondements du régime sioniste ont été affaiblis très fortement et il est voué à la disparition. Aucun phénomène imposé par la force ne peut durer”,
    All the French media jumped only on the phrase “voué à la disparition” – in a way to repeat the same meme said by Ahmedinejad. However, if one reads the whole sentence, he is saying that the Zionist regime has been weakened and is bound to disappear. He did not say the State of Israel.
    I guess the pro-Israel club of Paris and laurent Fabius must have doen a good job wrt the owners of those TV stations and newspaper.
    I guess the translation from Farsi to French by the AP and Reuters journos must be at par with those of Foggy Bottom or Turtle Bay.

  8. MM says:

    I remember when former USMC Captain Matthew Hoh resigned in protest from the Administration in 2009, then working as an aide to Richard Holbrook, over the proposed surge of troops that Obama was contemplating.
    Hoh said the war in Afghanistan was pointless and unworthy of the sacrifice of US soldiers and Marines.
    I agreed with him then and still agree with him.

  9. Laura Wilson says:

    Thank you for mentioning actual history w/ regard to Afghanistan. The 1879 chapter was not Britain’s greatest hour and, over the years, still carries lessons for us. It is a gripping story!
    The tragedy of our venture is that we over-militarized it and when we leave will leave many Afghanis (especially women) in a very bad place. We did not put as much focused and effective effort into institution-building as we did into midnight raids on private homes.
    Sometimes we really should use our State Department!

  10. turcopolier says:

    Laura Wilson
    “Sometimes we really should use our State Department!” For what? The State Department is incapable of carrying out any significant management task. They can’t even run their embassies efficiently. What they are good at is writing cables. Do you think the Afghans, who are unchanged from 1879, could have been negotiated into cultural change Ridiculous. After we got through hunting AQ down we should have left the place to its own devices. pl

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