As the war in Afghanistan winds down there are more questions than answers relating to the accomplishments in more than a decade of war. Politicians want a positive spin, to tout success, but recent revelations of corruption tell a different story.
Washington's man in Kabul is Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. Both President George Bush and President Obama Barack Obama courted him, although both knew the whole thing was a sham.
While the US may have had initial intentions to drive out Al Qaeda and the Taliban and reform the country and bring it freedom, the fact is that the US ended up doing business by adopting the way of the warlords, but found out you can't buy a warlord, you can only rent him.
Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Khalil Roman, formerly Karzai's chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, that U.S. dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags were delivered to Karzai's office. The money arrived in secret and left in secret.
The irony of this is that Karzai engaged in the same game with Iran and he hasn't even attempted to conceal it. Almost three years ago, he declared that the US wasn't his only benefactor and that he was grateful to the Iranians for doing this.
“They do give us bags of money -- yes, yes, it is done, we are grateful to the Iranians for this.” Give the man his due; he has never whispered sweet things in our ears about “transparency,” and he hasn’t bothered retaining a Washington lobbying firm that would tutor him on what he should say to -- and about -- his American patrons.
Yet the irony continues and the US administration continues to mislead the public with talking points that tout strategic planning initiatives, including negotiations for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which would guarantee up to 30,000 NATO troops remaining as a residual force to conduct special operations and drone strikes against Taliban leaders. Meanwhile the public is told that the Al Qaeda has been defeated and is on the run.
Then Karzai makes another public appearance and complains about the number of civilians killed at the hands of NATO, wants special operations troops removed, but then backs off. One has to ask the question what the price was to pay for this reversal. Karzai apparently has no problem telling the world how he games Washington politicians, who are amateurs in the Afghan game.
Yesterday US Secretary of State John Kerry announced proudly that Ambassador James F. Dobbins agreed to serve as the next Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kerry said in a statement that Dobbins has deep and longstanding relationships in the region and that he couldn’t be more grateful.
This morning I called leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to tell them that Ambassador James F. Dobbins has agreed to serve as the next Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has deep and longstanding relationships in the region and I couldn’t be more grateful that Jim has agreed to take on this assignment.
This is a pivotal moment for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, with interconnected political, security, and economic transitions already underway in Afghanistan, and Pakistani elections just days away, marking an important and historic democratic transition.
Given my own history with both countries, and players throughout the region, identifying the right person for this position was a key priority. Jim will continue building on diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict to a peaceful conclusion, actively engaging with states in the region and the international community.
Dobbins was a critic of those administration officials who opposed counter insurgency operations (COIN) in Afghanistan. One of the most vocal opponents was Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Washington Post Dobbins wrote an op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine that lambasted the opponents of General McChrystal's and Petraeus' counter insurgency policies.
Dobbins, in his article, singled out administration officials who opposed the strategy, including Vice President Biden, whom he referred to as a “civilian adviser.”
The article reads as an attempt to enter, and perhaps call, the administration’s internal debate over Afghanistan, largely by criticizing and sometimes mocking the positions he attributes to “Vice President Joe Biden and other White House officials.”
While Washington and Karzai play their games, the death toll in Afghanistan keeps mounting both on the military and civilian side. During the past week a cargo plane literally dropped from the sky after take off. Seven crew members were killed. The Taliban claimed the responsibility for bringing down the aircraft, but it was apparently an accident. The Boeing 747-400 was en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was loaded with vehicles and routine general cargo. The National Transportation and Safety Board is sending a team to Afghanistan to investigate.
Almost 2,200 US soldiers have died since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in late 2001 and more than 16,000 have been wounded in action. This week, in addition to the cargo plane, four US soldiers were killed in a non hostile helicopter crash at Kanadahar Airfield, while three British soldier died as a result of improvised explosive devices in Helmand province. Lest We Forget.Roll of casualties casualties
Below are this week’s updated DOD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
DOD Civ Casualties-------------3-------- ----1---------2
Worldwide Total--------------2199--------1731------461---- -18462
Accumulated 2013 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
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