“Afghan Talks at Impasse Before Vote, Officials Say” NY Times

" … the loya jirga would almost certainly reject the agreement with the American wording, which would make it all but impossible politically for Mr. Karzai to make a subsequent deal. The impasse was referred to obliquely in a statement posted Sunday night on the website of the Afghan presidency, which quoted the Afghan national security adviser as saying, “Both sides have not yet agreed on one of the clauses in the bilateral security agreement document.” The two sides have also not reached agreement on whether American troops will be immune from prosecution under Afghan law, but Mr. Karzai is willing to try to persuade the loya jirga to accept that, one of the Afghan officials said. The troops would be subject to prosecution under American law for crimes committed in the line of duty."  NY Times


I have decided to ignore the Cheney family "amusement."  Thanksgiving dinner should be interesting if they gather.

On the other hand, it is fascinating to watch the Afghans play us like a fiddle.  I stand by my belief that the loya jirga will "flush" this agreement.  In fact I think that Karzai knows this is true and is calculating the moment of his departure for Dubai.

There is going to be a great deal of unhappiness in the US armed forces over ten years of misguided efforts to make Iraqis and Afghans into Canadians.  There have been so many fallen comrades, so much money thrown away, such a waste.  I know the feeling well.

And then there is the spectacle of Laura Bush publicly hoping that Afghan women will be treated well after NATO's departure.  Does she think that our pious hopes and dreams for Afghanistan have actually changed the nature of the various Afghan societies? 

Afgan women who can manage it should leave the country.  pl


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31 Responses to “Afghan Talks at Impasse Before Vote, Officials Say” NY Times

  1. Charles I says:

    Announcing that an agreement had been reached when in fact it has not says all we need to know. Are there ANY contingency plans, other than jsut saying “Um, We’re not quite packed and ready to checkout, thank you.

  2. Fred says:

    From ABC news:
    “Once our troops leave, the eyes of the United States will go away and we can’t let that happen,” (Laura) Bush said. “We need to make sure they don’t think we shifted our attention as well as our troops.”
    Her physically fit combat aged children spent the last decade shirking this ‘obligation’. Does her family have no shame? Women can serve in combat now, let her convince Barbara and Jenna (Hilary can do the same with Chelsea.) of their ‘duty’ to the women of Afghanistan. Or does that just entail a sinecure in a think tank 3,000 miles from harm’s way where they can attend press conferences and make speeches to the truly brave – the ones who never serve but always have another cause for which we must send in the troops?
    Also from ABC:
    Kerry gave some tips to the male students in the audience, where former President Bill Clinton also attended.
    “For all the men…who sat in or who sit in classrooms where Bill Clinton sat so many years ago, my advice to you is this: Study hard, go to Oxford, become governor of your state, and then maybe you can marry one of the country’s remarkable secretaries of state,” he quipped to laughs from the crowd.
    Enlist, lead, go in harm’s way? Nope. To the ‘best and brightest’, he says let others bear the burdens of the Republic. What an ass. I’m ashamed I ever voted for this bastard.

  3. Matthew says:

    Col: “In fact I think that Karzai knows this is true and is calculating the moment of his departure for Dubai.”

  4. steve g says:

    I second that emotion on both counts.
    Creedence Clearwater said it best in
    their song “Fortunate Son” which we
    could add “Daughter” in this case.

  5. Peter C says:

    Karzai will hit the Lecture Circuit, and be placed on some Boards of Directors in the defense industry somewhere. Karzai will gain control of a company that makes currency counters, he will wear many out counting greenbacks. I can see Karzai becoming a partner is a consultancy dealing with Federal Contracts and contacts in far away places. Karzai may make the A list for certain social events. Possible ambassador to the U.N. for Afghanistan, he would get those hard to get restaurant seats in NYC.
    The possibilities are unlimited for Karzai.

  6. jonst says:

    So you don’t think he is going to play like Najibullah eh?
    The Bush comment put me in mind of a story in today’ Portland Press Herald (Maine)….some nonsense about a Portland ‘committee’ hoping to ‘influence’ the Russian City of Archangel, Portland’s ‘sister city’, into getting the Russian State to ‘change’ its policy towards ‘gays’. A whole story…on the front page. Some meaningless, petty trinket selling operation by a Chamber of Commerce to give people an excuse to travel someplace and maybe get a contract selling frozen fish or something…seen as a vehicle to influence a nation. We are children, friggin children…..I will bet you none of the delegation even knows the history (or did not know the history) of the Expedition there by US forces.

  7. Fred says:

    I am sure they will find the courage to spit out “Thank you for your service.”.

  8. JohnH says:

    Question put to Stephen Walt at the London School of Economics: “Why is it that politicians in the United States usually think it is safer to take a hard-line, flag-waving, decidedly hawkish approach to many international issues, instead of openly and consciously articulating a vision that emphasizes minding our own business (at least some of the time), embraces diplomacy first and military force last, and reminds Americans that their first duty is to each other. In other words, a view that thinks Americans should spend less time telling the world how to live until they’ve cleaned up some of their own enduring problems at home.”
    Nailed it! Now if someone could only convince Laura Bush…

  9. Eliot says:

    “Enlist, lead, go in harm’s way? Nope. To the ‘best and brightest’, he says let others bear the burdens of the Republic. What an ass. I’m ashamed I ever voted for this bastard.”
    There’s a venal sense of entitlement in many of our major universities. It speaks to the places where we come from, and what we’ve come to value.

  10. Stanley Henning says:

    Yes, we’ve wasted human and monetary resources on Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan – have we learned anything yet? That remains a question mark. Our so-called leaders have based their understandings upon hollow, meaningless, individual views tainted by empty political party approaches and acceptance of clearly false “intelligence” (Iraqi nuclear capabilities and Assad use of chemical weapons versus merely owning them). We need to wake up and take care of our own country – we have shown a serious lack of effectively handling key international affairs based on shallow understandings. If we do not wake up to our own
    shortcomings we will end up at the end of the line no matter how wonderful our military may appear – the military is only one part of a broader equation which requires approaching issues with real understanding and common sense.

  11. Bandolero says:

    Good news:
    Iranian Press TV directly from Kabul: Afghanistan rejects provision of US security pact

  12. jerseycityjoan says:

    One problem we have is that we do not have a single ally who is not a parasite and a dependent on us.
    I wish to God we got told to fix ourselves first a lot more often than we do.
    Instead, even our “best friends” stay silent. Now I think part of that silence is appreciation for the good things that we do.
    But I am afraid the majority of our friends keep up the smiles and the surface agreement with us because they want us to keep doing things and paying for things on their behalf, even the things that are a complete waste of our money or things things that they could and should do for themselves.
    I for one completely agree that we should be put ourselves first. But that will require a long and difficult process of breaking old habits and relearning new ones. I myself have no problem admitting we’ve been dumb at times and that we really need the money that we are wasting at home and abroad. Many others are resistant — and still more don’t even seem to realize that we are not the infinitely rich King of the World anymore.

  13. RetiredPatriot says:

    @JohnH, because it is so much simpler to keep the rubes at home riled up and thinking about issues far away than it is to actually begin to work on those issues that really matter to those same (propagandized) rubes.
    And yes, many of those rubes were the stars of our highest ranking officers.

  14. The Virginian says:

    The Karzai’s (along with other Afghans – political elite, narco/warlords, and Talibs alike – already have places in Dubai lined up, including on the famed Palm. Afghanistan may not totally collapse as it did in the 1990s, but the regression (or really just the re-prioritization on) past patterns of behavior and demarcations of rivalries seem set to come to the fore. At best Kabul will remain a city-state, with Herat and Mazar the other city-states reaching out in their immediate environs, with the dealmaking between so-called leaders to take on new heights. Recent anecdotal evidence from friends in Kabul suggest a new exodus of Afghan elites is in the works as those with money (to include money scammed from US tax payer supported “development” programs) are creating contingency plans for getting out.

  15. Buzz Meeks says:

    To Fred and Steve G,
    Don’t forget wearing fake, mocking Purple Hearts at “nominating” conventions. All part of thanking folks for their military service.

  16. bth says:

    These same Afghan families have also acquired residential properties in New Delhi.

  17. Charles I says:

    Any news from Kabul about American contingency plans?

  18. Walrus says:

    Your post is offensive on any number of levels.

  19. Norbert M Salamon says:

    sorry off topic
    Interesting statement of Iran’s view on the talks
    I could not copy the url, just retyped it, hope no mistake

  20. John Adamson says:

    “There have been so many fallen comrades, so much money thrown away, such a waste. I know the feeling well.”
    Spot on!
    Nothing changes.

  21. Fred says:

    Yep, that too.

  22. jerseycityjoan says:

    In re-reading what I wrote, I could see that someone might think I was trying to be an instigator and deliberately nasty. If that is what you thought I was doing, I am sorry.
    But I was not. I was just describing the situation as I see it. I do think our friends are our friends, but I also think our all our friends are dependent on us. Do you disagree?
    All of our international relationships are colored by the fact that we are world’s sole superpower, used to doing things and paying for things because nobody else had money after WWII. If we were a smaller country and the world were different, I am sure our relationship(s) with whatever reigning superpower(s) existed would be similarly affected by the same considerations.
    But look, I’ve had enough of sacrificing to maintain a reverse-empire in which we hand out resources to First World countries which provide great healthcare and four weeks of vacation to everyone.
    I don’t want us to keep borrowing and I want us to spend more of our money on ourselves — lots more of it.
    The only way to do that is if we stop overspending on healthcare and defense.
    I have quite a bit of affection for some of our allies, especially our fellow Anglosphere countries. But we are going to have to greatly cut back if we want to keep ourselves.
    Our wages have fallen, jobs creation is low, we have ourselves all tangled up in immigration matters that are a net drain on our resources now and will be a far heavier burden in the future, as we eventually legalize illegal immigrants already here and they bring in their overseas families.
    You all must know the days of big changes are coming.

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think phrasing things in the lacuna of “friend” or “enemy” is not very useful.
    I think it is more accurate to think in terms of “those who want to work with us” and “those who do not wish to work with us”.
    I think many people and governments are willing to work with the United States and many others – on the other hand – have concluded that they cannot work with the United States.
    I do not know about North Korea but I think even Cuba or Iran – given changed circumstances – would be interested in working with US.
    Certainly Syria was – before US leaders decided to designate it as an enemy.

  24. confusedponderer says:

    Hostility is a choice as much as a reflex.
    US foreign policy follies of the last devades are IMO largely informed by the US being at liberty to pick and choose enemies from a position of safety and comfort.
    And sometimes, just sometimes, I think that to Washington, ruled by Ds or Rs, diplomacy ain’t diplomacy unless it’s coercive and backed up by military force.
    Point is, when you have goals that are utterly unacceptable to the other side, then coercion becomes a preferred choice since it is the only conceivable way of reaching that unacceptable goal without ‘loss of face’.
    And needless to say, it isn’t really victory when you can’t kick the other side when they are down.
    It is that puerile atitude, and the equally moronic idea that a desire for regime change is a surrogate for a policy.
    Actually, the more unrealistic the ideas that are being pursued become, the more attractive the ‘game changer’ becomes.
    Iraq is a textbook example: Despite all US demands Saddam inexplicably refused to commit ritual suicide in order to achieve the US goal of regime change. How dare he.
    Since sanctions didn’t produce regime change, a game changer was needed and it came in form of the US invasion. That overapplication of coercion then squashed Saddam. And that secular Baathist Iraq as we knew it with him.
    I look at the aftermath and see the limits of power and coercive diplomacy.

  25. Charles I says:

    You seem to have the “we’re essential, everyone’s dependent on us” down pat and I’m sure it is a burden. But its a burden America has insisted on imposing on itself, albeit greatly to the world’s overall benefit in lieu of any other power. Still, overspending on health and defense are choices. One heartily supported, both feasted on.
    As is American insistence in trying to impose tax, air travel and other extra-territorial law on its “dependents”. Currently it is trying to get its maximalist criminal copyright sanctions regime imposed on the TPP. Apparently it is believed it is so dominant this will be swallowed. Dependency ain’t all its cracked up to be. Single payer health care is though.
    The biggest change coming will be the dependents making new arrangements as the U.S. becomes less dependable, a la the Saudis upon hearing that there are not enough Navy ships to protect Saudi tankers. One could imagine most of these perforce disentanglements will tend to the nation’s benefit, but the political dissonance will be Fordian.

  26. Walrus says:

    I fail to understand where this idea that America is “handing out resources to first world countries”. We pay through the nose for the American military hardware we buy. We too spent blood and treasure in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan at your behest – because we believe it is in both our national interests. I happen to have a smattering of defence contracting experience and my opinion is that America doesn’t give anything away for free – ever, at least to its friends.
    We are now in a major diplomatic row with Indonesia thanks to Edward Snowden NSA leaks which revealed a little of the intelligence cooperation between us which has also extended for decades to listening bases and suchlike.
    Your latest request is to station 2500 marines in the northern city of Darwin (where I happen to be at the moment) and we are currently organising to spend some hundreds of millions of our own money to accommodate them.
    Just south of here is the only fully automated aerial exercise Area in the region and we play host there to the airforces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei as well as the USAF on a regular basis. Then there is a host of other stuff which for example, has seen us send people and stuff to do god knows where on your behalf.
    Furthermore, I think you shouldn’t be so smug about the “superpower” bit. I don’t believe America has faced a first world enemy since WWII. Yet Iraq and Afghanistan are hardly first world enemies and look how they have beaten you upside the head! Yes I know fighting with one hand tied behind our back and all that, but surely the billions spent in the name of force protection against a $10 IED should be food for thought? Remember the fable of the lion and the gnat?
    The one thing that the USSR enforced on America was a certain humility. Sometimes I wish they were still around.

  27. Fred says:

    Does Karzai think the “loyal jirga” is loyal to him? Does Kerry think they are loyal to “democracy” as espoused by the Kennedy School of Government? Perhaps they are as loyal to the American dollar as Mr. Karzai is.

  28. Neil Richardson says:

    “The one thing that the USSR enforced on America was a certain humility. Sometimes I wish they were still around.”
    And I find this as pretty offensive. While I would certainly agree with you on the convergence of national interests as the primary driving force for alliance formation, your point about the US never giving anything away is just flat out wrong. My father had fought in Korea. I’ve served in ROK. Now my son will get his chance in the next training cycle. We’ve done nothing but give away our national treasure for decades in not only military aid but also through preferential trade agreements.
    So you’re upset that Australia had to pay the price of the UKUSA Agreement with the recent row in Indonesia. Well, there’s always the possibility of opting out and joining the rest. And as for the cost of stationing the Marine contingent, I’m very familiar with the history of cost-sharing negotiations between the US and ROK as well as Japan. If the burden-sharing bothers the Australians, well you should opt out of the defense arrangements with the US. And the next time the Japanese…excuse me the PLAF aircrafts show up at Darwin, don’t call us. We’ll call you. Comments like the one above do a lot to convince an East Asia hand to turn almost isolationist even though I should know better. Frankly, I’m fed up and we’ll see how the rest of the world get along once the big bad Yankee bully decides to go home.

  29. Neil Richardson says:

    IMHO it’s always useful to remember Palmerston’s words when one thinks about the conduct of nation-states.
    “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”
    We’ve not been always charitable (The UK made its final Lend-Lease payment in 2006. And decolonization was one of FDR’s primary foreign policy goals.). At the same time we’ve not been as calculating about the cost and benefits of alliances either. Comments that strike me as reflexive anti-Americanism usually annoy me, but if one examines through the chaff, there’s some truth. We bore the heavy burden of alliance-formation and maintenance throughout the Cold War (look at the cost-sharing agreements) due to our national interest for the most part (e.g., NATO and Japan).

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not quite a long the lines of what you are saying but somewhat related question:
    “Has US drawn any benefits from her interactions with Japan (and South Korea) if all costs are included over the span of 150 years?”
    Was there a net gain for US?

  31. Neil Richardson says:

    Dear Babak:
    “Has US drawn any benefits from her interactions with Japan (and South Korea) if all costs are included over the span of 150 years?” Was there a net gain for US?
    I wouldn’t presume to do a CBA on a period in which the United States had fought two wars that cost 160,000 American lives. However, since 1951 Japan has been a reliable ally of the United States. Some years ago, a friend asked me if there had been any “winners” in the Korean War. My answer was Japan as it hastened their economic recovery from utter devastation. Since Perry’s expedition, much of our bilateral relations could be characterized as commercial. Remember that Britain was Japan’s Western ally until 1921 when Canada scuttled the renewal of the alliance treaty at the Imperial Conference (They’d feared Japanese aggression as well as the possibility of being drawn into a potential war against the US).
    As for the Republic of Korea, well McCain tried to make a comparison to Iraq in his usual half-baked manner back in 2008. In some ways he was right although I seriously doubt he knew the actual history of the war. There was a significant insurgency before and during the war which wasn’t completely wiped out until the 1960s. Of course the biggest question that McCain should’ve asked is “Was it worth it”? Before Park initiated the economic transformation, South Korea was commonly referred as our “economic basket case.” It’s hard to imagine today, but back in 1967 the DPRK was enjoying much higher economic growth rates. To someone who sees “freedom” as black and white as McCain does, it’s a silly question. However, the peninsula wasn’t and still isn’t critical to our core security interests.
    The ROK government and numerous South Korean veterans associations have done a remarkable job of inviting back US veterans of the war. And there have been emotional reunions with war orphans who have become very successful. Remember that the KPA would often round up landowners, government officials, police, teachers, Christian ministers and anyone who could potentially oppose the regime after capturing a city or a village. And when ROKA marched north, there certainly were retributions. There were so many war orphans who’d survived brutal winters thanks to some unnamed GIs. Yet, it seems to me the general reaction of US combat veterans after the war has been a conscious decision to try to suppress their memory and move on with their lives. Some wounds never heal for combat veterans. It’s only in the recent decade or so that I’ve met some who’d expressed satisfaction that their sacrifice might’ve meant something. To millions of South Koreans, it’s an easy question to answer as the alternative would’ve been a predatory regime that became democidal. That wasn’t always the case for many Americans who had paid the price.
    I’ve always believed Americans paid closer attention to detail before co-signing a mortgage than thinking about our mutual defense treaties around the world.

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