Karzai or What?

"The lack of trust between Karzai and the West could directly hurt the campaign on the battlefield in coming months, when U.S. troops launch the war's biggest operation in the southern city of Kandahar, said Tim Ripley, who writes about defense for Jane's publications in Britain.

"The obvious problem is, the aim of counter-insurgency war is to win the population to the cause. And if you don't believe in the cause, it's difficult to sell it to the population," he said.

"They seem to be not having much confidence in the Afghan government, and the Afghan government doesn't have much confidence in us either."

In recent days, U.S. military officials have briefed reporters on the Kandahar operation, saying they would prefer to sideline Karzai's half-brother, the province's provincial council chief and most powerful man.

Karzai stands by his brother and is unlikely to accept any pressure to reduce his family's interests."  


"unlikely to accept any pressure to reduce his family's interests."  Really?  I wonder what Dr. Kass advises the CoS USAF and Mullen about this.

I said earlier that the outcome of the effort at Marja would be decisive and that appears to have been a good guess.  

Marja is an experiment.  What is being tested is the hypothesis on the part of the COINistas (Nagl et al) that the foreign coalition can "reform" Afghan government enough to make the true Taliban irrelevant.

Afghanistan is not Iraq.  Despite its varied sectarian and ethnic groups Iraq has a solid core of nationalist identity that is reappearing as a power.

Afghanistan is a less "westernized" place.  Family, clan, ethnic nation and Islamic variety are more dominant features of the country.  

Karzai is a typical Afghan.  His family interests, those of his cronies and their families, these things come first.  Whatever is left over can be "spread around."  We have encouraged this feeling by the extent of our toleration for corruption fueled by drug money and poorly administered foreign funds.

Having done that, we launched a "crusade" for governmental virtue at Marja and expected the Afghans to fall in line with our notion of how to do things. "Do what we think you should and all will be well," is our message.   Karzai came to visit this COIN experiment and was lectured by local people sheltered behind the marines.  He has been told that he should abandon the interest of his half brother.  He was lectured by President Obama.

Be careful or you will break this man and then what will you have?  Direct rule?  pl 


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13 Responses to Karzai or What?

  1. The Twisted Genius says:

    I don’t think our political and military ruling classes can ever wrap their minds around the fact that others in this world may not want to be just like us or do exaxtly what we tell them to do. Even the COINistas, with all their talk about people-centric warfare, appear uncomfortable with people living their own culture and expressing their own aspirations. I guess only anthropological field researchers, old school Special Forces soldiers and wild eyed world wanderers are capable of accepting and embracing the diversity of human cultured.

  2. My guess is the Karzai Brothers have salted enough to take care of themselves elsewhere and now are both focused on a graceful exit as opposed being stood up against a wall and shot. Could be wrong of course.

  3. VietnamVet says:

    The Puppet Leaders are sounding alike:
    President Hamid Karzai on Thursday delivered one of his most stinging criticisms to date of the foreign presence in Afghanistan, accusing the West and the United Nations of wanting a “puppet government” and of orchestrating fraud in last year’s election.
    Nguyen Thieu when he resigned as President stated, “The United States did not keep its word. Is an American’s word reliable these days?” …and, “The United States did not keep its promise to help us fight for freedom and it was in the same fight that the United States lost 50,000 of its young men.”
    Being the leader of an occupied country with thousand year history of resisting foreign invasion is a tough thankless job though well paying.
    What gets one pounding his head against the wall is when it seems everyone everywhere denies there is any similarity. From the New York Times review of the Vietnam Wars Novel: ‘Matterhorn’: Almost every page contains some example of military callousness or incompetence that would be virtually inconceivable today.
    Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — report symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
    No War is a Walk in the Sun. Afghanistan is like Vietnam, the realities of the inherent incompetence and suffering of war are ignored. They are colonial wars that cannot be won fighting on the cheap. Haphazard killing of families at checkpoints or by drones will not conquer Afghanistan.

  4. N. M. Salamon says:

    I think the native powers and powers to be in Afganistan and Iraq [probably also in Iran] are reading the tea leaves about the USA economy 50% of unemplyed wuthout job for 26+ weekws], and await the imminent [year or less] withdrawal of forces, else WW III if Israel USA miscalulates on IRan!
    Ergo sum, life goes on….

  5. “Be careful or you will break this man and then what will you have? ”
    I recollect that we decided the elections were honest enough and that Karzai was our guy.
    Might that have resulted from an assessment that his opponent was perhaps a bit too much in the Iranian pocket? Or…?
    Corruption…? Are we so squeaky clean out that way?
    I recall hearing years back that some thought it a bright idea to ramp up narcotics production in Afghanistan as a Cold War measure against the old Soviet empire. Soften up the Soviet with some narcotics. Paks had no problem with this as there was plenty of money to be made and so…
    And we are now lecturing Karzai?

  6. Direct Rule would be one choice. Complete abandonment would be another choice. If we abandoned Afghanistan, could we do it in such a way as to give the Karzai government a chance of survival against the resurgent Taliban?
    I remember Professor Cole featuring on his blog an article by an area expert/diplomat about where we went wrong in Afghanistan, and how we might retrace some steps and go right. I can’t remember when it was, but I remember F.B. Ali praising that article in its own comments section. Perhaps F. B. Ali could comment here with a link-back to that article?
    I remember a couple of months ago hearing an Ahmed Rashid interview on the radio. Mr. Rashid said that all of Afghanistan’s neighbors except for Pakistan dread a Taliban return to power because the Taliban would then ramp up their training and assistance to Taliban-inspired insurgents in Muslim Russia, the Soviet Asiastans, and Sinjiang. So I thought: if that is true, then all these neighbor nations should be encouraged to view Afghanistan as being their problem to solve. And the way to do that would be to announce a date-certain for total evacuation and disinvolvement from Afghanistan. And we would further announce that we would approve and support any steps the Shanghai Cooperation Council Nations choose to take to stabilize Afghanistan to their taste. If the SCO nations really care so much, this would be their big opportunity to solve the problem. And if they were all unanimously in favor of solving the problem, they could probably get Pakistan to forbear from obstructing their efforts.

  7. R Whitman says:

    Is the US military starting to form a basis for being exonerated for failure in the Middle East.
    The recent statements indicating that US troops are at risk because the Israelis connot come to settlement terms with the Palestinians and the complaints against Karzai for corruption seem like excuses.
    Throw in the inability to come to terms with Iran, and less than cooperative governments in Turkey and Pakistan and we have a future that does not look bright.

  8. Thomas says:

    “Be careful or you will break this man and then what will you have?”
    The Loya Jirga establishing a new union of independent provinces of Afghanistan.

  9. markf says:

    Excuse me, but this sounds like yet another politician polishing his nationalist credentials with some pretty standard America-bashing, (plus maybe a little personal payback for American comments).
    Is our geopolitical position in Afganistan based on their believing we are angels? Are we worried that Karzai may convince them otherwise? Isn’t this guy supposed to be solidifying his domestic base? Proving to his people that he’s tough enough to lead?

  10. Ron R says:

    I’m quite sure this will NEVER make the moderators cut, but the answer seems quite simple to me…
    CLEAN UP YOUR HOUSE – or one of two things will happen..
    1) We pull out IMMEDIATELY – leaving behind NOTHING to support him – NO military equipment, weapons, advisors, contractors, or further financial aid of ANY kind OR…
    2) One shot – one kill… with the promise of the same for the next “leader” more interested in lining his pockets and collaborating with our enemies than in seeking reasonable solutions to the problems facing his nation.
    Like I said…I’ll be amazed if this actually makes it through the moderator – but somebody has to suggest we quit coddling this corrupt SOB while our troops die daily trying to support what he promised to deliver !! There IS NO SUCH THING AS A FAIR WAR – NOR A POLITICALLY CORRECT ONE – when will we ever open our eyes to THAT fact ??

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    Why wouldn’t it make the cut? It is not ad hominem, nor is it exceptionally foolish.
    War is not something to be be described as you do. It merely is. pl

  12. Ron R says:

    When I saw my comment had been posted, I came very close to posting an apology for the comment about the moderators probably not allowing it – guess I’m far too accustomed to the editorial staff that reviews comments on that Y place 😉
    I fully understand war – my comments concerning “No such thing as a fair war, nor a politically correct one” were intended only to reflect my disgust with those who insist that our soldiers be tried as criminals when harm comes to anyone not actively firing on them or pushing the button on the bundles they’ve wrapped themselves in – those more than willing sacrifice their own innocent civilians – men, women, and children alike – as casually as they would an enemy soldier in the name of their “cause”.
    Since Vietnam, and probably before, we have sent our young men to face an enemy they can’t identify – the North Vietnamese used civilians, including women and children, as soldiers, shields, and weapons on a regular basis – as have every enemy we’ve faced over the decades since.
    And yet we have in our country a civilian minority – most of whom never had the guts to don a uniform to defend the very freedoms that allow them to voice their opinion – who scream every time a non-combatant falls in the vicinity of a group of enemy fighters. While it is absolutely unfortunate that innocent people are occasionally lost in war, the bottom line is that when the enemy deliberately integrates itself with a civilian population – and then use a portion of that very population against our troops – this type of thing will inevitably happen. And where is the anger, and the judgmental voices of the same people criticizing our troops when the enemy routinely take so many of their own, or others, innocent non-combatants with car , cafe’, subway, or train attacks, and the like..??
    It infuriates me when our troops are demonized by these people – and perhaps they should help prevent this type of thing by putting on the uniform and facing what our soldiers face on a daily basis. I’m sure THEY would be able to do a better job when surrounded by people who either will – or would like to – take them out at any given moment..??
    I’ve always felt that one should never criticize a man or woman until you have walked miles in their shoes,or in this case, boots – and personally have never found a clearer example of this than the one shown by those who criticize our troops !! Our military put their lives on the line every day to defend the freedoms these same people take for granted – and my only question to their critics is this:
    Would YOU be willing to risk your life for someone you never met..??
    Until that far off day when our soldiers all return to US soil – may God watch over you, protect you, and ensure that you all make it back home safely to your families. Thank you for all you do in the name of freedom every day !!!

  13. Patrick Lang says:

    “the North Vietnamese used civilians, including women and children, as soldiers, shields, and weapons on a regular basis”
    I don’t remember them doing that. In fact I was present once when an NVA officer negotiated the evacuation of a Catholic village held by them becasue it would be destroyed when we retook the place. pl

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