"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Treachery at the top in Afghanistan
By Ralph Peters
New York Post
February 27, 2013
In his latest act of ingrate treachery, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered US Special Forces out of Wardak Province, the back door to Kabul. His demand came two weeks after he halted US close air support for the Afghan National Army, crippling his own military’s capabilities.
And that came atop multiple incidents when “our man in Kabul” blamed US troops for everything that went wrong in his wretched country.
That’s what you get for $600 billion these days. Without our support and protection, Karzai would have been swinging from a lamp post years ago — just as his predecessor Najibullah did in 1996. But stuck in our strategic battered-wife syndrome, we’ve continued to make excuses every time Karzai lashed out at us.
The decisive point came in 2009, when we let him steal the presidential election, discrediting all our rhetoric about democracy and the rule of law. After that, Karzai must’ve figured he had us by the “stacking swivel,” as my drill sergeant used to say.
And Karzai was right. Two thousand American troops have died to keep in power an unscrupulous incompetent who isn’t even grateful. And Karzai is confident that we’ll keep the money flowing after we leave. Meanwhile, he appears to be cutting deals with side-jumping tribal chieftains, fence-sitters and our outright enemies to ensure his own survival.
Which brings us back to that order to remove our Special Forces from a key province. Our special operators have been by far the most effective tool we’ve had on the ground in Afghanistan. While the tactics forced on our other troops left them easy targets for roadside bombs and assassins, the SFers built the only counterinsurgency programs that worked.
With Karzai’s Afghan National Police hated for their corruption and unreliability, our Green Berets built village militias — neighborhood policing, frontier-style. They empowered locals to protect themselves. Unsurprisingly, the locals liked it.
Karzai resisted the program: The National Police were under his control, but not those village self-defense forces. Solution? Trumped-up charges that Afghanelements associated with our troops engaged in torture and kidnapping.
Although NATO and US investigations found zero evidence of such activities, it served Karzai as a lever to neuter both our most effective troops and those pesky militias.
Who benefits? Karzai apparently thinks he does, but the real winners are the Taliban, who were losing ground in Wardak.
Karzai seems to be positioning himself for an ultimate bargain with some Taliban elements, renegade tribal chieftains and his ethnic-Pashtun homies.
He doesn’t trust the members of the old Northern Alliance (our 2001 allies in Afghanistan and the guys we should’ve supported all along) who serve in his government. But by trying to forestall a civil war that would drive him out, Karzai may be making civil war inevitable. And the guy we’ve backed looks likely to be on the anti-American side.
That’s what we get for backing individuals, rather than supporting institutions.
We’re suckers for the devious exile who speaks English and knows the magic words “democracy” and “human rights.” Result? Iraq has become a satellite of Iran, and Afghanistan’s going to come apart again.
Meanwhile, we’re chained to one of the world’s most corrupt regimes and enthusiastically backward countries. We want to get out, but can’t do it overnight. The huge force infrastructure we’ve built up takes years to dismantle and ship home — over Pakistan’s rickety transportation net (we’re hostages to the Pakistanis, too), or through Central Asia and Russia.
We have never before chosen to expose a major US force in such a strategically idiotic position. We never should’ve had one more soldier or system in Afghanistan than we could bring out by air in an emergency. Logistics, not nation-building fairy tales, should’ve shaped our actions. Now we’re going to have to bribe our way out, paying tribute money to thugs from Moscow to Islamabad.
My bet is that Karzai isn’t half as smart as he thinks he is. If he’s expecting to cut a deal with Taliban elements, he may be focused on the wrong threat. By pandering to terrorists and halting the US air support his army desperately needs, he may have set himself up for a post-American coup staged by Afghans who actually care about their country.