After a year of talks over the post-2014 US military presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. administration announced last week that a new agreement had finally been reached. Under the deal worked out with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. would keep thousands of troops on nine military bases for at least the next ten years.
It is clear that the Obama administration badly wants this deal. Karzai, sensing this, even demanded that the U.S. president send a personal letter promising that the U.S. would respect the dignity of the Afghan people if it were allowed to remain in the country. It was strange to see the U.S. president go to such lengths for a deal that would mean billions more U.S. dollars to Karzai and his cronies, and a U.S. military that would continue to prop up the regime in Kabul.
Just as the deal was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry and ready to sign, however, Karzai did an abrupt about-face. No signed deal until after the next presidential elections in the spring, he announced to a gathering of tribal elders, much to the further embarrassment and dismay of the U.S. side. The U.S. administration had demanded a signed deal by December. What may happen next is anybody’s guess. The U.S. threatens to pull out completely if the deal is not signed by the end of this year.
Karzai should be wary of his actions. It may become unhealthy for him. The U.S. has a bad reputation for not looking kindly on puppet dictators who demand independence from us.
Yet Karzai’s behavior may have the unintended benefit of saving the U.S. government from its own worst interventionist instincts. The U.S. desire to continue its military presence in Afghanistan – with up to 10,000 troops – is largely about keeping up the false impression that the Afghan war, the longest in U.S. history, has not been a total, catastrophic failure. Maintaining a heavy U.S. presence delays that realization, and with it the inevitable conclusion that so many lives have been lost and wasted in vain. It is a bitter pill that this president, who called Afghanistan “the good war,” would rather not have to swallow.
The administration has argued that U.S. troops must remain in Afghanistan to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. But al-Qaeda has virtually disappeared from Afghanistan. What remains is the Taliban and the various tribes that have been involved in a power struggle ever since the Soviets left almost a quarter of a century ago. In other words, twelve years later we are back to the starting point in Afghanistan.
Where has al-Qaeda gone if not in Afghanistan? They have branched out to other areas where opportunity has been provided by U.S. intervention. Iraq had no al-Qaeda presence before the 2003 U.S. invasion. Now al-Qaeda and its affiliates have turned Iraq into a bloodbath, where thousands are killed and wounded every month. The latest fertile ground for al-Qaeda and its allies is Syria, where they have found that U.S. support, weapons, and intelligence is going to their side in the ongoing war to overthrow the Syrian government.
In fact, much of the U.S. government’s desire for an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan has to do with keeping money flowing to the military industrial complex. Maintaining nine U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and providing military aid and training to Afghan forces will consume billions of dollars over the next decade. The military contractors are all too willing to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the productive sectors of the U.S. economy.
Addressing Afghan tribal elders last week, Karzai is reported to have expressed disappointment with U.S .assistance thus far: “I demand tanks from them, and they give us pickup trucks, which I can get myself from Japan… I don’t trust the U.S., and the U.S. doesn’t trust me.”
Let us hope that Karzai sticks to his game with Washington. Let the Obama administration have no choice but to walk away from this twelve-year nightmare. Then we can finally just march out.
Ron Paul is a former U.S. Congressman from Texas and the leader of the pro-liberty, pro-free market movement in the United States. His weekly column – reprinted with permission – can be found here.
Condoms don’t guarantee safe sex anymore ….. A friend of mine was wearing one when he was shot by the woman’s husband
Afghanistan ain’t safe – time to pull out and stay out
Well said indeed…
To take your nicely played analogy to the next level, contrary to what the amateur-hour asshats running our federal government believe, there are no “safe wars.” Soldiers on any base in the shithole of Afghanistan would be at grave risk, as are pilots when they dump smart munitions. Sure, the odds are better for us, but they are not 100%. Ever.
Karzai’s truck comment stings a little
It’s also factually incorrect and tactically futile.
We’re giving the ANP all kinds of stuff but we haven’t given them any tanks largely because we’re not even using tanks – in fact, I don’t think the Army has a battalion’s worth (44) of M-1s in all of Afghanistan – they simply cannot maneuver effectively in the terrain we fight in. I know the Marines have exactly one company (14 M-1s).
The ANP’s problem is they can’t maintain a donkey cart, much less a MRAP or an M-1. They have struggled to manage HMMWVs – an M-1 is an order of magnitude more complex.
We bought Russian rifles and helicopters for them because the “tractor simple” designs seemed like they would be easier to manage – didn’t work. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-afghanistan-army-struggles-to-wage-war-with-damaged-equipment-poor-logistics/2013/10/17/96118b40-34e6-11e3-89db-8002ba99b894_story.html
Anyone who bought the President’s claim that “…Four years ago, I promised … in 2014, our longest war will be over….” hasn’t any grasp of reality.
There are four brand new hangars, a new three story hospital, several new barracks buildings and a host of other new construction at Bagram Airfield – not “expeditionary, temporary construction” but nice concrete and steel buildings.
We’re bulldozing bases as quickly as possible and building new bases and expanding others just as fast as we can.
Sorry Paul, but Afghanistan is going to end up being the new South Korea. We’ll be there for decades spending untold sums of money. At least, until we go to war with another Middle Eastern country.
Ah yes, I also like to get foreign policy advice from the guy who said there’s never been an imminent threat on American soil.
The place isn’t a stable or sovereign nation, so leaving it all behind is exactly what got us here in the first place. But, who am I for studying history?
Ok history guru… How stable is Iraq after our interventionist foreign policy stint there? You must work for one of the military industrial complex companies like Halliburton.
It’s awful when Alzheimer’s happens to doctors…;they’re the worst patients