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Afghanistan BSA: Apologies, Baksheesh, and the Imperium’s Love of a Good Graveyard

Senator John Kerry_Afghanistan_ President Hamid Karzai_Daniel Wilkinson10

Dear God; will ya just make him sign the fookin’ thing already? (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Let’s look at the recent tick-tock of the Bilateral Security Agreement negotiations; the deal marches further and further backwards.  And by the by, was SOFA too toxic a term since the US got booted outta Iraq?  Date links from the Guardian:

Nov. 20: ‘US and Afghanistan reach deal to ensure American post-war presence: Security Agreement ensures rump US force will continue to train, advise and equip roughly 350,000 Afghan soldiers’

A ‘rump roast’ force of ya know, 10,000 to 13,000 troops Marine General Joseph Dunford, the US/Nato military commander in Afghanistan, hopes for to ya know, train up those pesky Afghan security forces to go it on their own (as has been a main mission for a decade or so).

Nov. 20White House will not publicly apologise for Afghan war mistakes: But separate communique to bilateral security agreement may contain ‘reassurance’ that US troops mistakenly killed Afghan civilians’

Susan Rice: Fuck that; we’ve ‘sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda’.  Such ingrates they be.   Night raids?  Only in emergency situations, Obomba promises.  ‘Nobody asked for an apology!’ shrieked Jen Psaki, State Department flack.  But, uh-oh, turns out there is some precedent for apologies:

‘Apologies have not been without precedent in the Afghanistan war. In 2010, Admiral William McRaven, then the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, slaughtered a sheep in penance to a family that saw its members mistakenly killed by McRaven’s forces.’

Nov. 21: ‘Hamid Karzai urges Afghans to let US forces stay another decade: President says small military presence offers best hope of stability, but suggests pact should be signed by his successor

His rhetorical push was to the 2500 or so attendees of the loya jirga ‘grand assembly’ (do click the link for the awesome photo)

Nov. 22: ‘Hamid Karzai delays signing new US-Afghan military pact; Afghan president puts negotiations in crisis saying plan for retaining US forces should be signed after presidential elections’

‘Still, Karzai has stepped away from ultimatums before, most recently a demand for an absolute ban on US forces entering Afghan homes, and most of the heavyweight candidates vying to replace him are likely to support the pact. The loya jirga could also potentially call on him to sign the deal now.

The agreement is vital to secure the $4bn annual funding Afghan security forces will need after 2014, and training for a still weak and badly equipped force. For Washington it allows counter-terrorism forces to pursue al-Qaida and linked groups along the border, and support a decade of investment in lives and money.’

Yah, $4 billion is nothin’ to sneeze at, nor is any of the (ahem) under-the-table baksheesh.  How busy is the CIA this week, offering gifts from the Military/Industrial/Congressional Complex to members of the jirga?  Ya know, some of that $8.3 trillion or so that’s never been accounted for?  Maybe some of that ended up in those plastic-wrapped bales of Benjamins that were loaded onto cargo planes bound for Iraq; likely similarly in Afghanistan, eh?  Of course.

From Brian Cloughley at Counterpunch: ‘Will the Afghan Jirga Reject American Commands?: Why Should US Forces be Exempt from Local Trials?’:

And what will happen if the CIA hasn’t been able to bribe a majority of the 3,000-plus jirga representatives to vote in favor of surrendering their national pride? The spooks have been trying hard to do so: the amounts involved are large, and I’ve heard that at least one trusted intermediary has vanished with a shrink-wrapped dollar-bill package rather than passing it to a well-known potential supporter voter.

I have to admit to a laugh about that, if only because I wonder under whose law the package-interceptor might be prosecuted in Dubai, where he already owns a nice apartment. But the questions remain: will the jirga play the American game? Will it agree to US special forces continuing their unaccountable midnight blitzes on Afghan houses in which deaths, casualties and illegal detentions are never reported, as demanded by Washington?

And will it, above all, approve the passage of an Afghan law that says that Afghan law does not apply to US soldiers who break laws that apply to Afghans?

Now what would you do, if you were voting on such a matter in your country? — But of course you don’t have an apartment in Dubai.’

Yes, Karzai also may be farming out some of the responsibility for a continued military presence, but it’s not as though the jirga were a surprise element or anything.  Are there side deals going on as to how many contract security forces will remain, or arrive soon?  I’d bet on it.  How many are still ostensibly ‘guarding US Embassy-city in Iraq?

In ‘Whose Interests Do the US Serve in Afghanistan?’, Kathy Kelly, currently in Kabul as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers takes a hard look at the facts of Afghan children’s education, rampant malnourishment, wasted funds, the humanitarian NGO workers embedded with troops; a dirge of an accounting.

‘As of March 31, 2013, a total of 534,006 people were recorded by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) as internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan. Increasing numbers of IDPs are moving to cities and towns, where they are co-settling with non-displaced urban poor, poor rural-urban internal migrants, and returning refugees. In Kabul there are 55 such informal settlements, housing about 31,000 individuals, and conditions are dire – especially with respect to shelter, access to water, hygiene and sanitation. I’ve personally visited some of these squalid, desperate camps, in Kabul, – one of the largest is directly across from a U.S. military base.

Recently, I studied the U.S. SIGAR (Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction) report and puzzled over a chart which showed that even though U.S. non-military expenditures there approach 100 billion dollars spent since 2001, only 3 billion has been spent on humanitarian projects. And the military expenditures far outstrip these logistics expenses. The U.S. is now spending 2.1 million dollars per soldier, per year as part of expenses incurred by the drawdown of U.S. troops, while the Department of Defense maintains 107,796 security contractors, with the state department and USAID hiring several thousand more. The Pentagon’s request for operations in Afghanistan in 2013 is $85.6 billion, or $1.6 billion per week.

In Afghanistan, prospects may be looking up for U.S. corporate control of crucial oil pipelines in the region; for early military encirclement of anticipated superpower rival China; and for unrivalled access to some 1 trillion dollars’ worth of copper, gold and iron ore, and perhaps 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements vital to Western industry, all of it awaiting extraction from the earth beneath Afghans’ feet.

You may remember that just after this President fired Stanley McCrystal (O, Michael Hastings, be at peace), it was discovered that General Petraeus had endorsed a plan for Afghanistan called ‘The New Silk Road’ (2010).  Old ideas for profit rarely die; they just get waylaid.  Pipelinestan, indeed.  Rare Mineralestan, all for the benefit of the Afghan people, see?  As was the push to educate the women and children.  OpiumPoppyestan?

But never mind the other issues behind Karzai’s current balking at signing the BSA: the Prez says he has to hurry!  There are budgets to prepare!  Fight ‘em over there!  More emergency double-taps with dignity included in the deal!  Load the bales on the planes, CIA!  (O, don’t be silly, wendydavis; they’ve already been offloaded and are being carted around in wheelbarrows as ya type.)

Yeah, it’s just a theory, albeit a cynical one; so sue  me.

Updated 11/25/13:

Loya Jirga Head Rejects Karzai Demand to Delay U.S. Pact Signing

By Eltaf Najafizada – Nov 23, 2013, Bloomberg News

 ‘Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s demand to delay the signing of a security pact with the U.S. until after April’s presidential vote is unacceptable and will harm the country, the head of a council of tribal elders said.

Karzai has “no right” to delay the signing of the accord that would pave the way for a continued American presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, chairman of the loya jirga council called by the president, said yesterday.

“Every demand of Mr. Karzai and ours have been practiced and accepted by them,” Mojaddedi told reporters in front of the council’s compound in Kabul.

Here is how Michael Brenner, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, sees is (much as I do).

Look out, Susan Rice is on the case: ‘Susan Rice meets Hamid Karzai as tensions rise over troops agreement’: Pentagon urges Karzai to change mind and sign security pact; More than $8bn for Afghanistan security forces also at stake


(cross-posted at

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