Karzai — Whoa! — Calls for a Timetable to End the Afghanistan War

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

To call this unexpected is really quite an understatement. From the Associated Press:

President Hamid Karzai told a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation Tuesday that the international community should set a timeline to end the war in Afghanistan.

It’s hard to know what’s totally at work here. My first instinct is that this is a measure to shore up Karzai’s waning support among war-weary Pashtuns. But could he really mean there ought to be a set date on ending the Afghanistan war? One thing that’s been entirely missing from the policy debate on Afghanistan — in the U.S., in NATO, in Afghanistan — is that no one even pretends to think about how the war is supposed to end. No one knows the endgame, and no one even proposes endgames. Obama wants to catch and kill bin Laden. Cool. Does that mean the U.S. goes home afterward? This is a lacunae that’s difficult to explain — except when considering if we’ve gotten too used to the idea that the war on terrorism will be a “generational” war. How will Obama react to Karzai’s statement?

Another thing to consider. Karzai gave this intriguing quote:

“If there is no deadline, we have the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations,” Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

Is it too much of a stretch to wonder if Karzai is floating the timetable idea as a bank shot way of promoting his negotiations with the Taliban? In other words, is he trying to box people — namely, Americans — into thinking that the only thing less desirable than negotiating with the insurgency is to set a date for leaving Afghanistan, so they better support the first option?

And another thing, in the context of those negotiations: If it’s true that the Taliban feels stronger than the government right now, would it feel such an incentive to negotiate if it believed Karzai was going to kick the U.S. out no matter what?

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Comments

6 Comments

ufred
Comment posted November 25, 2008 @ 11:25 am

Perhaps he's searching for a way to counter the stories coming out of DC suggesting that the US might withdraw it's support for his continuation in office.


Carol
Comment posted November 25, 2008 @ 11:56 am

As matters stand today, the removal of NATO troops would mean the end of the Karzai government. The Taliban would be sucked into the vacuum with a giant whooshing sound. Karzai no doubt needs to make the world think he has the power to control Afganistan, when in fact he is an unpopular figurehead.


JGabriel
Comment posted November 25, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

Spencer Ackerman: One thing that’s been entirely missing from the policy debate on Afghanistan — in the U.S., in NATO, in Afghanistan — is that no one even pretends to think about how the war is supposed to end. No one knows the endgame, and no one even proposes endgames.

I thought the endgame was supposed to include that capture or death of bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar. To be followed by a mini-Marshall Plan style reconstruction for Afghanistan.

Guess we can't afford the latter anymore. Still, I don't see how the US can pull out of Afghanistan without that trio taken care of in some fashion.

.


Leona
Comment posted November 29, 2008 @ 7:32 am

As strapped as The U.S. is for cash, I dont see how we can not include some reconstruction of Afghanistan in any plan. If the Bush administration had spent money on reconstruction after we got to Afghanistan and the people were glad to see us they might have been able to get jobs in construction and been able to better the lives of themselves and familys. Maybe the young guys who were targeted by the taliban would have seen there was a better future available. If you have nothing and no hope you may see the logic in fighting for it. To be given a chance at a decent living and home life would have been the best reason not to join the Taliban. These people may still have been glad to see us. Bush blew it.


Leona
Comment posted November 29, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

As strapped as The U.S. is for cash, I dont see how we can not include some reconstruction of Afghanistan in any plan. If the Bush administration had spent money on reconstruction after we got to Afghanistan and the people were glad to see us they might have been able to get jobs in construction and been able to better the lives of themselves and familys. Maybe the young guys who were targeted by the taliban would have seen there was a better future available. If you have nothing and no hope you may see the logic in fighting for it. To be given a chance at a decent living and home life would have been the best reason not to join the Taliban. These people may still have been glad to see us. Bush blew it.


Video: Karzai Calls for an End to the Afghanistan War
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[...] Ackerman has a break down of what Karzai meant by that statement, but frankly, I can see where Karzai is coming from at this [...]


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