Afghan friction: The U.S. faces a bumpy road to withdrawal
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The U.S. situation in Afghanistan is becoming so untenable that Americans are at the point of asking how bad it must get before Washington pulls the plug and leaves.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a difficult ally, is part of the problem, but the real difficulty is the immutability of Afghanistan in the face of British, Iranian, Pakistani, Russian and U.S. efforts over the years and American leaders' tardiness in accepting that reality. The Afghans' resistance to change makes them difficult to deal with and reflects a desire to be in charge of their own country. That means a willingness sometimes to accept foreign intervention, but it also means a demand to have its factions work out their issues themselves.
For foreigners, it is necessary to recognize when it is time to go, and that's where the United States stands today. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama is sticking to his old position that Afghanistan was the right war, as opposed to Iraq. If he is keeping America in Afghanistan to please U.S. war hawks, the result will continue to be the death and injury of more U.S. personnel and the profligate dispersion of more American dollars.
Mr. Karzai, whose accession to power through relatively democratic means was a source of U.S. pride, is trying to save his skin by disassociation as U.S. forces pull out. His latest outrageous acts have included accusing the United States of trying to cut a deal with the Taliban behind his back. Does he or anyone else imagine that a settlement of the Afghanistan melee will not be political and will not include the Taliban? He has also, on the eve of Afghanistan's spring fighting season, demanded that no U.S. combat troops operate in Wardak Province, a gateway to the capital Kabul.
American and other international troops continue to be subject to violent attacks from Afghan security forces who are being trained to take over assuring Afghanistan's and Mr. Karzai's security. There are also the continuing revelations of major corruption and theft of U.S. and other international resources, by Mr. Karzai's government and related Afghan businessmen and financiers.
U.S. forces now stand at 66,000, with withdrawals scheduled to continue through 2014 and full removal not yet set. Americans can hope their forces are concentrating now on getting themselves and their equipment out, the sooner the better.
First Published March 21, 2013 12:00 am