About That Note « The Washington Independent
DENVER — So in Sen. Joe Biden’s speech last night, he referred to Afghanistan-slash-Pakistan (and big ups for that recognition of their inextricability) as the “real central front” in the war on terrorism. This is the way that operations in that central front are conducted. Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post reports:
For the past six years, military relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been governed by a two-page “diplomatic note” giving U.S. forces virtual carte blanche to conduct operations as they see fit.
Although President Bush pledged in a 2005 declaration signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to “develop appropriate arrangements and agreements” formally spelling out the terms of the U.S. troop presence and other bilateral ties, no such agreements were drawn up.
Legitimacy is a force multiplier in counterinsurgency, as precious a commodity as anything. It also isn’t a renewable resource — once lost, it doesn’t get regained. To treat the Afghan government as a stumbling block or a hindrance or an afterthought is exactly the sort of thing that will condemn the Afghanistan war to failure, particularly in light of this last airstrike that killed 90 civilians. What kind of bilateral accord would a President Obama negotiate?