FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Karzai Dilemma

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai is not conforming to his puppet status. He was meant to be the marionette of Washington’s confused and often incompetent policy in Afghanistan. With Karzai at the helm of a broken and mutilated state, the Coalition forces demonstrated with much aplomb what version of democracy they were giving the Afghan state. Not only was it a weak stripling, it proved to be a diseased one on the cusp of death.

The anger shown towards Karzai’s reluctance to the current security plan by Washington is almost amusing. He has been accused by Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, as “reckless in terms of Afghanistan”. He has refused, at this point, to ratify the security deal with his occupying sponsors despite its endorsement last week by the Loya Jirga, or council of tribal elders. He is biding his time, waiting till spring national elections are concluded.

The bilateral security arrangement, if implemented, would see a continuing U.S. military presence once the U.N. mandate that oversees its role ends in December 2014. This is further proof that withdrawal is something U.S. officials are contemplating with deepest reluctance, the unnecessary inconvenience of abiding by the wishes of a local populace they generally regard as roadside furniture in strategic planning.

Withdrawal is a word they would like to sidestep altogether, removing the bulk of the troops while still maintaining a set of stern military eyes over their satraps in Kabul. In the words of an unnamed senior Obama administration official, “The footprint of the intelligence community depends to some extent on the footprint of the military” (Washington Post, Dec 2). If those eyes are removed, U.S. special operations and intelligence personnel would become ineffective. Hence the pressing need to clip the wings of Afghan sovereignty, qualifying it within the parameters of perceived U.S. security.

RAND analyst Linda Robinson is happy to have suggested a different approach: lie, even more, to win Karzai over. Giving him a zero-option was not wise, showing clay-footed indiscretion. The U.S. approach to Kabul in this case “betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of Afghan nationalism and pride” and it would have been wiser that Washington crafted “this in a way in which his role as guardian of Afghan sovereignty is unimpeachable.” Pride, sovereignty and nationalism are three concepts alien to the U.S. approach to that country, but Robinson dares not mention it.

It is also striking that these officials assumed that Afghan compliance in qualifying their own sovereignty would be a matter of course – mindless assumption seems to be the staple of clumsy hegemony. Between 8,000 to 12,000 U.S. and allied troops would remain at various bases in Kabul and in the four corners of the country. The interminable war would continue.

The consequences are being hammered home should U.S. involvement be totally removed from the region. Foreign aid would cease to flow, thereby asphyxiating the state. This was a threat aimed at Karzai by the White House national security advisor Susan E. Rice. Karzai claimed on December 1 that Washington had commenced cutting military supplies. As a Sunday statement from the Afghan national security council noted, “The meeting concluded that the cutting of fuel supplies and support services to the Afghan army and policy is being used as a means to pressure Afghanistan [to sign] the Bilateral Security Agreement [BSA] with the U.S.” (Al Jazeera, Dec 1).

James F. Dobbins, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has issued a gloomy forecast. “If [the agreement] doesn’t happen, if this anxiety grows, you project into the upcoming electoral period a degree of instability caused by growing alarm at Afghanistan returning to the 1990s” (Washington Post, Dec 2). The official line from the occupation forces is a dull and fanciful one: that the 1990s must be avoided; that the coalition has been invaluable to stabilising Afghanistan.

Fictitious lines have been drawn in the sand, the crossing of which will result in calamity. The truth has always been that such forces were creating the most artificial conditions and forging the weakest of institutions to begin with. Afghanistan was invaded and unconvincingly occupied. An ersatz mutant democracy has been created, fuelled by graft and corruption and there are no doubt some in the region who would be happy with the U.S. zero option of withdrawing all forces should Karzai refuse to comply. Karzai is unlikely to call Washington’s bluff, given his love for its snakelike gravy train. The charade is set to continue, only for some time.

A force that invades, however paternal, however benign, is the force that eventually must leave. Afghanistan will continue to fight, against all who are on its soil, because it has known nothing else. Karzai is but an aberration, a front, a footnote to be erased by the next power struggle.

With the entire Afghan policy in shambles, the countries that have invested in the enterprise, often bloody, rarely successful, need to come up with plausible narratives. They need to argue that the blood was worth shedding. The case is not convincing. The greatest testament to that failure is Karzai himself, the significant proof that Afghanistan is doomed as long as he, and his sponsors, remains in power.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail