McChrystal on Karzai Peace Plan: Important That It ‘Feel Fair’
Not a whole lot of news came out of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Amb. Karl Eikenberry’s White House news conference this afternoon. McChrystal patiently explained that the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban are “distinct but not completely unrelated.” Eikenberry used the adjective “successful” as often as humanly possible. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, blessed whatever peace plan President Karzai’s so-called peace jirga will assemble to offer the Taliban. It’s important to get “Afghan solutions crafted for Afghanistan,” McChrystal said, so the offer will “feel fair.” That suggests the offer has implications beyond just the Taliban it would directly address: If Afghan civilians consider the deal fair, then they’ll be more likely to blame the Taliban if it proves unrequited than the government.
Eikenberry, who emerged last fall as a skeptic of Karzai, pointedly declined to say whether Karzai has earned his confidence. “He’s the elected president of Afghanistan” and a “close friend and partner” was how the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan preferred to leave it.
McChrystal also tamped down some bellicosity about Iran when asked about sporadic reports that the Islamic Republic is arming the same Taliban forces that it used to oppose. “Iran’s reach into Afghanistan is fairly legitimate,” McChrystal said. Intelligence that indicated “malign activity” was present, but “not significant.”