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Thread: The future with Karzai: a debate (merged thread with new title)

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default The future with Karzai: a debate (merged thread with new title)

    We really picked a winner with Karzai, he wants to join the Talaban and also uses drugs, might be a little crazy to. Link to interview on MSNBC.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540...92324#36192324

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    Apparently, al-Qaeda isn't very enthusiastic about this: LINK

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    Maybe the US is actually ready to leave (and some good men are to be sacrificed to make it look respectable)? and ISI certainly thinks it is going to get the contract when the US leaves. Since Karzai doesnt want to be swinging from a lamppost with cigarettes and dollar bills stuffed into his mouth, so his unhinged behavior has a reason....
    SO what do the experts say: what is the US objective now that "victory and democracy" are off the table? A cynic would think the US should aim for a well balanced civil war that keeps Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran busy for decades, but with the US you never know. The administration may actually be aiming for something more idealistic.

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    Default End State

    What is the desired End state in Afghanistan?
    Taliban removed from power. CHECK!
    Stable Afghanistan government capable of handling current external and internal threats. CHECK!
    Removal of all Taliban everywhere on God's green earth to 6 sigma certainty.
    Not there yet.

    I would argue that the first two are the only legitimate ones out there and we are done.

    The ANSF is manned, equipped and trained to deal with anything the Taliban can throw at them. That they refuse to do so is a different issue.

    If foreign soverign threats are a concern, thats why God invented treaties SoCATO (South Central Asia Treaty Organization) Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it.
    War's over boys.
    We won.

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    Default A Real Way Forward-2010

    Despite the commotion, I was very pleased with the emerging solutions today.

    Two weeks ago, Bing West gave a very clear and cogent report on the Marjah operation, ending with the routine warning that it all depends on the ability of the Afghans to step up for the later Hold, and Build phases.

    In the succeeding weeks, President Obama stopped by to reportedly pressure President Karzai to get his act together. We all heard the responses, ranging from Karzai's claimed threat to join the Taliban, and Galbraith's belief that Karzai is literally smoking something.

    Out of all that comes a more contextual recommendation from West in today's NYT: How to Save Afghanistan From Karzai. Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/op...ml?ref=opinion

    Bottom Line, in my read of it, was the recommendation that Karzai be bypassed, especially by US dollars, and that the mission be right-sized to a realistic one of clear, hold, turn over. Turn over to who? The Afghan military? Turn over what? Responsibility for policing and governance?

    What about the locals? Work with the ones that will work with us. Leave the ones that are puppets of Kabul.

    He recognizes the risk of turning Afghanistan into a military dictatorship, but points to examples (Philipines, South Korea) where that worked out OK. Bottom line, though is that it is for Afghans (not the US) to make their governments work, and not for us to prop up bad ones.

    A simple op-ed, but loaded with meaning and realities. Defining a workable military mission. Defining a credible and actionable answer to Amb. Eikenberry's framing of Karzai as an unreliable partner.

    I assume that implicit in West's next steps is neither a "Yankee Go Home" mission ender, nor an end to substantial US civilian stabilization/reconstruction. (Although a lot of Joe Biden's camp will here this as familiar).

    But the bottom-line is nuts-and-bolts practical, deeply connected to reality, and, refreshingly, an answer that does not raise more questions than it answers.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-07-2010 at 08:35 PM. Reason: Fix link to cited article

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    Default Wrong answer

    The ANA is absolutely the wrong vehicle.
    It is Tajik dominated.
    If you want to infuriate the Pashtoon majority (plurality), put the ANA in charge.
    MOI with ANP would be more accepted.
    The problem is, we shoved a crap constitution down their throat which gives the president disproportianate power, especially in light of the traditional decentralized nature of Afghan society.
    The solution is we tell Karzai, "Resign or we (and our money) leave in 6 months." If he resigns, great. If he doesn't, great. Just be prepared to be back in 5 more years. At this point, Karzai is more harm than good. Especially with AWK screwing things up.

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    Default Armchair thoughts

    There are those here in the UK who state - quietly - that Karzai is the only option and a far larger group who'd prefer the question was not even asked. It is sometimes bewildering to see how the fundamental issues of our role in Afghanistan are pushed aside for the tactics.

    I would expect the 'establishment' would swiftly change its "tune" if the USA announced, or quietly undermined him, that Karzai was an obstacle.

    From my "armchair" Karzai is not the only option, especially when you realise the power of a nation-state based in Kabul is actually very limited.

    IMHO we should not overlook the domestic impact of Karzai's recent apparent statements, his attitude will harden the majority here who oppose the UK involvement and could swing others.
    davidbfpo

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    Sylvan:

    I don't doubt that there would be a lot of internal unhappiness to be resolved by Afghans under a "Make the Afghans solve their own problems" approach.

    They have a Popalzai in Office in Kabul, and another as shadow governor in Kandahar. How is that working out for them?

    I don't mean to be flippant, but there is a point at which either they own us, and we own their problems----or they own their own problems and rapidly engage in solving them.

    There are no solutions to Afghanistan's internal political/civilian governance problems to which our military can be a deciding factor, and, as the scorecard shows, few remaining US critical problems left unresolved.

    West's proposal was that we work with the local folks who will work with us, and leave the rest to talk among themselves (but without US assistance or financial aid).

    Personally, I witnessed to many foolish endeavors in Iraq with US taxpayer dollars literally flushed down a toilet by well-meaning but misguided efforts to intervene in Iraqi domestic problems.

    Last week, Salah ad Din's Deputy Governor was interviewed about the Iraqi elections, and I remembered his very cogent explanation of why Iraq did not need US built schools (if they wanted them, they would have built them themselves, at much less cost and much better quality). Instead, what he really wanted was a civilian airport, the final construction contract for which was just let (to an American contractor): a completely Iraqi funded project.

    Certainly, Afghanistan lacks the resources of Iraq, but that does not mean that we do them favors by bringing US projects to insulate them from the political/governance problems of their own country.

    Reading these reports of soldiers being directed to wandering through Afghan villages like lonely Santa Clauses (Need any wells? How about a couple of schools?) under the Clear-Hold-Bribe strategy is just not going to produce significant results consistent with US timetables.

    Between William Polk's very good article in The Nation on the futility of such efforts, and the London Conference report on essentially the same matters and conclusions, it seems like a good time to put down a different kind of gauntlet. Tough love or otherwise.

    My opinion.

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    Default Take a step back

    Bing's article was refreshing, and a good perspective on how Marjah may provide examples for a "bottom up" approach. I do feel it's worth taking a step back from the "ditch Karzai now" argument and try understand why he made his comments earlier in the week. Was it part of a hidden agenda for reconciliation? What was the context of those statements? Was he being intentionally inflammatory to evoke a western response? What was said to him prior to those statements? I believe it was in a closed door meeting, and he was quoted by the Nangahar provincial representative, which also may be laden with rhetoric. Despite Karzai's clear toleration for corruption (hello! his brother is a major narco/terrorist facilitator), he is no fool. He's survived because he's a politically motivated opportunist. He knows how to build alliances and utilize coercion. Is he worth our continued support? Probably not. Is he worth addressing and negotiating with? Sure.

    The point in asking these questions is to try and understand Karzai's actions over the last week without making the typical over-reactive assertions. Karzai is playing a dangerous game, and the NATO nations should react accordingly, which is to say they should call his bluff. However, before acting, they should attempt to reach out and understand the logic behind his statements from his perspective before moving on and cutting him out of the picture entirely.

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    Green:

    From what I read lately, Karzai's primary focus is to prepare for the time after the US backs off in 2011. Playing to his popular base, plus against the threats to his power base (anti-corruption).

    We may be the strongest tribe at the moment, but we offer him no future.

    The funny part was his comment about joining the Taliban. Immediately, the Taliban's well-oiled press machine responded that they could accept him, but only after judging him for bringing foreign troops into Afghanistan.

    That sounds like Salem Witch Trials. Wrap him in rocks, drop him into a lake. If he is innocent, he will float upward.

    His back is up against a lot of walls. What to do?

    If I was him, maybe I would be taking drugs, too.

    PS: As much as anything, West's flyer (coming after his trip to Marjah with all the big boys) might, in the end, prove to have been a trial balloon to get his undivided attention. It really is a big game.

    PPS: As Saddam was swinging, Quadafi reminded his Arab brethren that this fate often awaits those leaders who dance with us. Was he right? Is that what Karzai is focusing on?

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From my "armchair" Karzai is not the only option, especially when you realise the power of a nation-state based in Kabul is actually very limited.
    I agree, we could do better.

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    Default Peter Galbraith Article

    Link to Washington Post article (from SWJ Blog) by Peter Galbraith (worlds greatest living expert on Good Government and Brother of the worlds greatest living Economist James Galbraith) comments on what to do in A'stan since we don't have a legitimate ally with Karzai.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...d=opinionsbox1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Green:

    From what I read lately, Karzai's primary focus is to prepare for the time after the US backs off in 2011. Playing to his popular base, plus against the threats to his power base (anti-corruption).

    We may be the strongest tribe at the moment, but we offer him no future.

    The funny part was his comment about joining the Taliban. Immediately, the Taliban's well-oiled press machine responded that they could accept him, but only after judging him for bringing foreign troops into Afghanistan.

    That sounds like Salem Witch Trials. Wrap him in rocks, drop him into a lake. If he is innocent, he will float upward.

    His back is up against a lot of walls. What to do?

    If I was him, maybe I would be taking drugs, too.
    He seems to gain political capital by biting into the hand which fed him, feeds him and which won't hang him from the spring board of a swimming pool.

    Said thought might well cross the minds of his potential "allies", the Taliban who would gladly give him a fair trial and hang him for crimes against Islam, the Afghan people and the cooperation with the infidels.


    Firn

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Link to Washington Post article (from SWJ Blog) by Peter Galbraith (worlds greatest living expert on Good Government and Brother of the worlds greatest living Economist James Galbraith) comments on what to do in A'stan since we don't have a legitimate ally with Karzai.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...d=opinionsbox1
    Concur with the jist.
    My ultimatum is simple. Karzai goes or we do. And I mean rapidly. Who ever wins the blood bath either deals with us or we break skulls again and start over.
    ANSF can handle the taliban right now.
    Militarily we have met all our objectives. Supporting an illigitimate dictatorship that we installed is not helping our long term objectives.
    We backed the wrong horse, as State Department always does, and the military is paying the price. Karzai wasn't even popular in Kandahar. His base was Tarin Kowt, a non-entity in the larger picture.
    Wish that 2000 pounder took him out in 2001. Would have been easier.
    Last edited by Sylvan; 04-08-2010 at 08:00 PM. Reason: soldierly language

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    Sylvan:

    One version I read of "would have been easier" was if the US had not pressured the Afghans to accept our constitution, and not simply re-appoint the old king. Alternative is a new Loya Jirga to address constitutional issues (do what they would have done back in 2002).

    Having said that, Tough Love sounds like the remaining course. The Afghans still have many unresolved political/civil issues better left to themselves; every effort we make in that sphere forestalls their resolution.

    PS: If the Taliban (under Omar/ISI, not Baradar) "judges" first, there won't be any "second thing" to address.

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    "OUR" Constitution it wasn't.
    It is a Western Europe constitution that our State Department was so enamored of and shoved down their throat.
    As you can see in other threads, my admiration for the capabilities of our State Department is literally immeasurable.
    We gave them a disfunctional frame work, and then installed a disfunctional ruler.
    And we are now befuddled that Afghanistan is disfunctional.

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    Default Agree completely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvan View Post
    "OUR" Constitution it wasn't.
    It is a Western Europe constitution that our State Department was so enamored of and shoved down their throat.
    As you can see in other threads, my admiration for the capabilities of our State Department is literally immeasurable.
    We gave them a disfunctional frame work, and then installed a disfunctional ruler.
    And we are now befuddled that Afghanistan is disfunctional.
    GIROA can never be any anything but corrupt, with fixed elections under the current constitution. Bad systems lead to bad results.

    In the US we forget how blessed we are by our good systems.

    As to Mr. Karzai, that is a matter between him and the people of Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to get out of the mindset of thinking that if we don't like a particular leader of another nation that we have some right to change that leader.

    We need to make our focus the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan Army is never going to threaten the US; but if we take positions that are counter to the well being of the populace of Afghanistan the people certainly can.

    Mr. Karzai is doing the US a favor by creating separation and working to create legitimacy for his presidency that if not borne of the popular will of Afghanistan, at least is not perceived as borne of the popular will of the US.

    We need to step back and reassess where certain "lines" are. There are things that are within our "area of concern"; those that are within our "area of influence"; and those that are within our "area of control." We traveled down a slippery slope throughout the Cold war, and the subsequent War on Terrorism, to where we seem to think that every corner of the globe not within the sovereign borders of a nuclear state is within our area of control. I doubt that there are many others who agree with that assessment; and it is a position that is wearing thin with friends and foes alike.

    Once we realize that not everything that concerns us can or should be influenced by us, and certainly even less should be controlled by us, we will begin to find the security from terrorist attacks that we seek, and a reemergence of the influence with others that has waned of late.

    Perhaps Mr. Karzai will help us to figure that out.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Bob:

    Well said, but wasn't that paraphrasing a prayer?

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Wisdom, humility and understanding all rolled together.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
    ... and a tight shot group for when all else fails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

    As to Mr. Karzai, that is a matter between him and the people of Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to get out of the mindset of thinking that if we don't like a particular leader of another nation that we have some right to change that leader.

    We need to make our focus the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan Army is never going to threaten the US; but if we take positions that are counter to the well being of the populace of Afghanistan the people certainly can.
    Hi Bob, couple of points.

    1-As long as we are fighting,dying and paying for the Government I think we have a legitimate interest in having some control of that Government.

    2-As for focusing on the people of A'stan correcting the corrupt leadership of the country is focusing on the people of A'stan, isn't it?

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