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After Karzai Criticism, US Looking for Exits in Afghanistan

Not a good sign for your signature war policy when the lead partner in the country in question says it’s doomed to failure.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday that the U.S.-led war on militancy would “not be successful,” and accused Western media of waging “psychological warfare” on his country.

The outgoing leader said U.S. efforts to defeat the Taliban would fail “from Afghanistan’s view” because it was being fought in Afghan villages, rather than against insurgents based in neighboring countries – an apparent allusion to Pakistan.

He said Kabul would only sign a cross-border security pact with Pakistan aimed at ironing out security differences when Afghans can be certain that “suicide bombers, terrorists, weapons and cross-border shelling” would stop.

So Karzai, wanting to maintain good relations with his own people, blames every attack in Afghanistan on militants coming over the border from Pakistan. Meanwhile, he says that the US and NATO cannot defeat the homegrown Taliban.

Meanwhile, lead Washington Post spook David Ignatius sends word of a plan to essentially declare victory and get out. It involves a pact that the US and its foreign allies will leave as long as the Taliban doesn’t oppress women and Al Qaeda doesn’t show up in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has been long gone from Afghanistan for a while, and the Taliban can probably put on a gloss so everyone can pretend they stopped the oppression. So this all seems doable.

The real goal, of course, is just to end this mess, which has gone on for far too long with no concept of a mission or objective. Afghanistan, meanwhile, gets an end to the intervention of foreign forces which has plagued its country for centuries. Supposedly this will lead to “collapse,” at least to hear some of the hardcore interventionists’ claims. But maybe we should try it once a century and see how it goes. However, no intervention should mean no intervention, not a “strategic partnership” that vows to “support Afghan security forces,” i.e. the ones killing US and NATO soldiers, until 2024.

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David Dayen

David Dayen