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Beyond Afghanistan, NATO nations are slashing their militaries. The consequences are already on full display. In Libya, without the U.S. in the lead, NATO was found woefully lacking in munitions, targeting and jamming capabilities, mid-air refueling planes, reconnaissance platforms, drones, and command-and-control assets—just about everything needed to conduct a 21st-century air war.
IV. The document commits Afghanistan to providing “access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014…for the purposes of combating al Qaeda and its affiliates.” That’s an important codicil, especially given Pakistan’s instability and duplicity—and given al Qaeda’s past record and future goals.
Regarding Pakistan, the country is a nuclear basket-case, a political mess, a metastasis of terror, the spawning ground of the Taliban and the final address of Osama bin Laden. It’s a sad irony that Pakistan was once the jumping-off point for targeting terrorists in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is now the jumping-off point for targeting terrorists in Pakistan.
As to the goals of bin Laden’s terror network, it was brought to light this week that bin Laden was working with his deputies, the Taliban high command and the Haqqani network on a plan for ousting Karzai and taking control of Afghanistan. Doubtless, these plans have survived bin Laden’s passing.
V. The document views “any external aggression against Afghanistan” with “grave concern”—and appropriately so. Elements within Pakistan’s military-security apparatus are funding and supporting a brutal guerrilla war against the Afghan government and its American guardians.
Yet in this same document, just a few paragraphs away, the United States “pledges not to use Afghan territory or facilities as a launching point for attacks against other countries.”
How does that fit with other parts of the document? How can these two concepts even be included in the same document?
VI. Finally, the document calls on both sides to “initiate negotiations on a Bilateral Security Agreement. Negotiations should begin after the signing of this Strategic Partnership Agreement, with the goal of concluding within one year a Bilateral Security Agreement.”
Setting aside the exquisitely Obama-esque (and downright silly) exercise of agreeing on an agreement in order to reach another agreement—one recalls the scene from “Office Space” featuring a whiteboard with the phrase “Planning to Plan” scrawled above an elaborate flow chart—it’s not unreasonable to ask if the president will live up to this agreement of agreements. After all, the United States and Iraq engaged in similar negotiations, building toward what most observers thought would be a long-term bilateral security partnership. American and Iraqi military commanders, as well as State Department officials and the Iraqi foreign ministry, counted on a modest-sized force of U.S. troops to provide security and training. Indeed, as Frederick Kagan, one of the architects of the surge, explained, “Painstaking staff work in Iraq led General Lloyd Austin to recommend trying to keep more than 20,000 troops in Iraq after the end of 2011.” The troops would not be there to fight, but rather to deter flare-ups, train Iraq’s nascent army, secure key facilities and back up their Iraqi partners.
But then the president undercut the delicate negotiations with a take-it-or-leave-it offer of a residual force of just 3,000 troops—a force not even large enough to protect itself. When Baghdad balked, as Kagan reported last year, “The White House then dropped the matter entirely and decided instead to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of , despite the fact that no military commander supported the notion that such a course of action could secure U.S. interests.” That bears repeating: “No military commander supported” a complete withdrawal.
But President Obama knew better.
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