Karzai Cool with Crimea

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has joined the governments of Syria and Venezuela in recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Why are we still giving this guy billions of dollars and letting our sons and daughters die for him?  Talk about thick as thieves — Putin and Karzai are quite a pair.

OK, Let’s Just Pay the Caped SOB

I am someone who would like to get out of Afghanistan yesterday, in terms of attempting to bring democracy or even stability to that medieval hellhole.

But today’s front-page story in the NYT* convinces me that we need to leave some troops.  Without them, we can’t have our drone bases, which means we can’t reach Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s frontier region and we’ll have a much bigger challenge if (when?) there’s a nuclear weapons crisis in Pakistan.

OK, you’ve scared me enough.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign the agreement for us to leave troops beyond the end of this year.  Just wire the money he wants into his Swiss bank account and let’s be done with it.

“Afghan Exit Is Seen As Peril To Drone Mission,” David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt

Moving to a “Support Role” in Afghanistan

President Obama announced today, after meeting with Afghan President (or as I think of him, Kabul Mayor) Hamid Karzai, that our troops will move to a support role in the spring.

He didn’t announce troop levels either between now and the end of 2014, when the war is supposed to end, or beyond 2014, when we may leave a lower level of troops under a new bilateral agreement.

Obviously our troops, currently at 66,000, are in less danger if they play a support role, but I’d still like to get them the hell out of there ASAP.  Even if our government were running a surplus, I still wouldn’t want to waste any more American lives and healthy brains and limbs on this hopeless effort.

Forget the counter insurgency.  That requires a strong, stable central government, which Afghanistan still doesn’t have despite our decade of sacrifice.  Focus on counter terrorism.  That requires drones and special forces, which we have in abundance.

After 9/11, we kicked out Al Qaeda in a few months, without a lot of ground troops.  We can do it again if we have to — and again and again.But the Taliban isn’t interested in coming after us, they just want to run Afghanistan, so they have no reason to let Al Qaeda have the safe haven they did before.  Lessons learned all around.

We have to let Afghanistan go back to the war lords and the poppy growers.  The Pashtuns will support the Taliban and the non-Pashtuns will fight them.  And we will go after Al Qaeda wherever they are.

Our Afghan War Theater is Theater of the Absurd

From Thomas Friedman’s column, “A Festival of Lies,” in today’s NYT:

“In Afghanistan, I laugh out loud whenever I hear Obama administration officials explaining that we just need to train more Afghan soldiers to fight and then we can leave.  Is there anything funnier?  Afghan men need to be trained to fight?  They defeated the  British and the Soviets!”

“The problem is that we turned a blind eye as President Hamid Karzai stole the election and operated a corrupt regime. Then President Obama declared that our policy was to surge U. S. troops to clear out the Taliban so ‘good’ Afghan government could come in and take our place.  There is no such government.  Our problem is not that Afghans don’t know the way to fight.  It is that not enough have the will to fight for the government they have.  How many would fight for Karzai if we didn’t pay them?”  Italics in original.

He asks if there’s anything funnier.  How about believing that sanctions will stop the Iranians from pursuing nuclear weapons?  That’s a knee-slapper too.

Quote of the Day

“Throughout history, insurgencies have seldom been defeated by foreign forces.  Instead, they have been ultimately beaten by indigenous forces.”  Gen. John Allen, commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee today.

We’ve been training the Afghan military and police for a decade with precious little to show for it.  And the use of the word “insurgency” is generous, it connotes a small group of rag tag, pesky people fighting a strong central government.  Basically, Karzai is mayor of Kabul.

Mitt and Rick Not Profiles in Courage on Afghanistan

Both Mitt and Santorum find it easy to criticize President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan.  But when it comes to offering their own solutions, they’re not so bold.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Santorum said we should either commit to winning or get out.  Which course would he take as commander in chief?  He wouldn’t say.

Same with Mitt.  On “Fox News Sunday,” he spouted word salad worthy of Sarah Palin in trying to address Afghanistan without committing himself to a policy position.  He said he needed to consult with our commanders on the ground before saying what he’d do.  But everyone knows enough about what’s going on to formulate the broad outlines of a policy.  We know about the corruption, about the slow progress in training the Afghan army and police, about our soldiers being killed by Afghans who are supposedly working with us, about the continued safe havens for the Taliban in Pakistan that let them elude us.

I think it’s reasonable to expect GOP candidates who accuse Obama of failing in Afghanistan to explain what they would do differently and how they would succeed.