Playing both sides against the middle, 55-year-old Afghan President Hamid booted U.S. Special Forces out of Wardak province for what he calls “harassing” behavior toward Afghan civilians. A key stronghold of the Taliban, Wardak province is an important battleground to keep the once brutal regime from gaining a foothold once the U.S. ends combat operations in 2014. Karzai’s been known to speak out against U.S. presence despite knowing that the Taliban would have his head in a heartbeat. Whatever abuses occur with the U.S. military, they’re small potatoes compared to Taliban’s known brutality. Instead of showing gratitude for costly U.S. sacrifices since launching Operation Enduring Freedom Oct. 7, 2001, Karzai continues to find fault with the U.S. military, often pandering to the Islamic street bashing the U.S. military when he steps in front of a microphone.
When Karzai considers the 2,177 U.S. deaths and nearly $1 trillion outlay for U.S. security and nation-building, complaining about U.S. presence makes the Afghan government look like ingrates. Since Bin Laden’s May 1, 2011 death, it’s been high time to reevaluate Operation Enduring Freedom. Once considered an essential part in combating global terrorism after Sept. 11, Afghanistan hasn’t been essential to U.S. anti-terror efforts since Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora in Dec. 14, 2001. For nearly twelve years, the U.S. did what it said it would never do: Engage in a costly nation-building operation. Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi conveyed villagers’ concerns that the U.S. abused Afghan civilians in Wardak province. Based on villagers complaints, Karzai asked U.S. Special Forces to get out, accepting complaints from villagers with ties to the dreaded Taliban.
Reaching his decision with Afghan’s National Security Council, Karzai decided to eject U.S. Special Forces from Wardak province. “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. Special Forces stationed in Wardak province were engaging in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” said Faizi. No matter how limited the incidents if they happened at all, Karazi blames the U.S. for Afghan mishaps. U.S. Special Forces, the most highly trained in the military, are unlikely to abuse civilians. Instead of investigating the complaints, Karazi quickly sides with specious Taliban-generated press reports. One report indicated U.S. Special Forces abducted a student in the middle of the night, finding a tortured body two days later with his throat slit. That sounds much more like the Taliban or al-Qaeda than U.S. Special Forces.
Karazi continues to pander to his Pashtun Taliban cousins, often leveling outrageous charges against U.S. forces. Blaming the occupying force for egregious abuses is commonplace by the evicted Taliban government. Karzai recently banned the Afghan Security Forces from using NATO air strikes, a valuable tool in fighting the Taliban. With the U.S. slated to end combat operations in 2014, Karzai’s recent move makes the transition more difficult. If Karazi’s National Security Forces don’t need U.S. troops or Special Forces, President Barack Obama should consider accelerating the withdrawal timetable. Every U.S. death comes with a heavy toll on the military and their families. While Obama said in his Feb. 12 State of the Union Speech that he wanted to end the Afghan War with dignity, what more indignity could there be than getting booted out the country.
Any time occupying forces fight a guerrilla war inside a host country, the warring factions frequently make up stories about war atrocities. Since the U.S. evicted the Taliban Nov. 15, 2001, Karzai has walks a dangerous tightrope placating the Taliban and, at the same time, tossing the U.S. under the bus. Instead pandering to the Islamic street and booting out U.S. Special Forces, Karzai should have said to his National Security Council nothing more than he’s conducting a thorough investigation. Karzai’s close personal contacts to Afghan’s opium poppy trade and the Taliban should have accelerated an end to U.S. military operations. There’s simply no winning for losing in Afghanistan. No one in the military believes the U.S. can impose Democracy on an illiterate populace, more drawn toward strict Islamic law than working on a Constitution to protect Aghans’ civil and human rights.
White House officials should put Karzai on notice that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is about to end. Leaving with dignity requires the U.S. to protect its military personnel, not buy Taliban or al-Qaeda-sponsored pernicious propaganda that the U.S. commits egregious human rights abuses. When the Taliban was lopping off the limbs of women and children in the public square before Operation Enduring Freedom, where were the Afghans when the Taliban were actively engaged in “harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering” behavior against Afghan citizens. Karzai’s unwillingness to confront his Taliban brothers makes it difficult for him to take any position supporting the U.S. military. If it weren’t for Washington’s endless political divide, both parties would have long ago jettisoned the Afghan War, a losing proposition from the get go that’s just gone from bad to worse.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.