Sympathy for the devil

The New York Times reported a couple of days ago that our glorious effort to change water into wine build a stable, functioning democracy in the territory we call “Afghanistan” may be winding down for keeps:

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

Mr. Karzai had made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said.

Kevin Drum approves of the pull-out, but feels for Karzai:

I can fully sympathize with Karzai’s impossible position here, regardless of what I think of him more generally. He’s got limited tribal support, no real control of the country much outside Kabul, a woefully undertrained military and police force, and the Taliban ready to restart its civil war at the first opportunity. And on top of this, he gets the blame every time we Americans do something to inflame the population. It’s impossible.

Yes, it probably is impossible now, but it was never inevitable. Nobody forced Hamid Karzai to run his country on behalf of narco-traffickers. He chose to do that. Nobody demanded that he rig Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential elections. Karzai decided to do that himself, because he’d have been out of a job otherwise. He’s been President of Afghanistan since December 2001. If nobody outside his gang of sycophants and drug traffickers Kabul trusts his corrupt, lying ass a dozen years later, whose fault is that? If Karzai hasn’t been able to engender enough popular support to overcome the Taliban, no great prize themselves, isn’t that his problem? If his freaking army and police are still this goddamned undertrained 12 years into his presidency, isn’t their lack of training on him? And those things that we Americans are doing that inflame the population? At least half of them are in the service of keeping Hamid in power despite his manifest inability to engender anything but disgust from his fellow citizens. I have huge objections to what we’re doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan right now, but none of them involve the pressure we’re putting on poor Hamid Karzai, who’s had plenty of chances to act like a real leader and stand up to unpopular American activities in his country, but passed on all of them.

Hamid Karzai, corrupt oil company shill that he was, would never have sniffed the presidency of Afghanistan if not for 9/11 and the American response to it. The fact that he proved to be a gloriously incompetent, magnificently compromised leader is the responsibility of him and him alone. If you want to blame the US for something, blame them for installing this loser in the first place.


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