Hagel’s Afghanistan Visit and Obama’s Disastrous “Good War”


Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s first trip to Afghanistan turned into a fiasco. Just hours after his arrival in Kabul on Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Afghan Ministry of Defense. At least 10 people were killed. Another suicide bomber followed suit near a joint Afghan-American checkpoint in the eastern province of Khost, killing nine, including eight children and a policeman. On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of collaborating with the Taliban. Hagel, who left the country without accomplishing anything, had two words for reporters who inquired about the challenges he faced. ”It’s complicated,” he contended.

Two additional attacks that bookended Hagel’s visit offer great insight into such “complications.” Last Friday, an American civilian contractor was killed and four collation troops were wounded, two seriously, when three men wearing Afghan Army uniforms stormed the gate at Forward Operating Base Tagab in the northern province of Kapisa and began firing. The attackers were subsequently killed. On Monday in Wardak province, two American troops and three Afghan policemen were killed when an Afghan policeman fired on them while they were visiting the station.

The term used to describe such insider attacks is “green-on-blue” violence. In its prevalence, it has become a symbol of the bankrupt strategy of “building trust” among Afghans (who will supposedly defend their country against Taliban forces after we leave) by putting Americans side-by-side their predictably deadly “allies.” In 2012, 52 coalition soldiers were killed promoting such trust.

Yet as a thoroughly corrupt and thoroughly ungrateful Hamid Karzai indicates, building trust is a pipe dream. Karzai’s disdain for America is both well-known and recurring, and his outburst during Hagel’s visit emphasized that reality. On Sunday, he contended that America and the Taliban have a mutual interest in destabilizing Afghanistan, insisting that the two aforementioned terror attacks were part of a clandestine collaboration designed to show that international forces must remain in-country after their combat mission ends in 2014. ”The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents,” he said.

Karzai has also criticized policies U.S. officials consider vital to our mission there, including an increasing reliance on Special Ops forces, and American input into the vetting and release of battlefield detainees. Karzai considers both policies to be violations of Afghan sovereignty. As a result, Karzai has banned Special Ops forces from operation in the Maidan Wardak province, claiming they have tortured and killed villagers in the area, one seen as crucial to defending the capital of Kabul.

Karzai also criticized America’s slowness in transferring Bagram prison to Afghan control. “As soon as it takes place, we know there are innocent people in these jails, and I will order their release, as much as I am criticized for it,” he said last Wednesday. That speech put in doubt a previously negotiated understanding of how the institution’s prisoners would be handled following the transfer. As a result, the transfer was cancelled on Saturday, during Hagel’s visit. On Sunday, a joint news conference between Hagel and Karzai was also cancelled because of another security threat. The two met privately, and Hagel said they had “a very direct conversation.”

U.S. officials, stunned by the timing of Karzai’s criticisms, weren’t sure whether they were timed for Hagel’s visit or simply an outburst of “unfortunate” political pandering. Yet they were sure such disagreements will be ongoing, complicating the withdrawal of American combat forces by 2014.

There are currently 66,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and while combat forces are scheduled to be completely withdrawn next year, somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000 residual forces will be left behind to further assist Afghan security forces and conduct counter-terror operations.

Hagel and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, insist Afghan forces remain committed to defending their own nation and are “on target” with regard to taking over national security later this summer. ”The Afghans are in the lead, the Afghans are bearing the brunt of the fighting in Afghanistan right now,” Dunford told reporters. The General also dismissed suggestions that Karzai’s criticism reflects a deteriorating relationship between the two nations. ”We do not have a broken relationship, we do not have a lack of trust,” he said.

Hagel also sought to downplay the friction between the two nations. “I was once a politician,” Hagel told reporters traveling with him. “So I can understand the kind of pressures–especially leaders of countries–are always under.”  He also insisted the eleven-year-old war effort remained “on the right path.” “You look over the past 11 years, it’s pretty dramatic, what’s happened in this country,” Hagel told reporters on Sunday. “Yes, a ways to go. Yes, challenges. Yes, issues. Yes, differences. But I don’t think any of these are challenges that we can’t work our way through.”

This rose-colored view was dismissed by Atiqullah Amarkhel, a former Afghan Army general and a military analyst, who saw the cancellation of the prison transfer in far more sober terms. “[Karzai's] prestige as president was degraded in the eyes of the public by the Americans’ refusal to hand over responsibility of the prison to the Afghans,” he said. “I think it drives him crazy when he sees it’s not happening. It also shows a deep sense of distrust between two onetime allies. To the public, it means all the power is with foreigners,” he added.

Mohammed Natiqi, a political analyst based in Kabul, explained Karzai’s rationale for banning Special Ops forces from operating in the Maidan Wardak province. “He has realized that Taliban will play an important role in the post-2014 Afghanistan,” Natiqi said. “And by banning night raids, airstrikes and criticizing Americans and NATO forces, President Karzai is trying to win over the Taliban and other insurgent groups.”

In other words, Karzai is playing both ends against the middle for reasons that are glaring obvious to anyone who has followed America’s schizophrenic counter-insurgency policy, one that has consisted of “winning Afghan hearts and minds” even as American soldiers were afflicted with rigid rules of engagement, victory became irrelevant, and a scheduled departure date of American combat troops in 2014 virtually assures the nation will once again fall under the control of the Taliban’s Islamist hard-liners.

An article in Sunday’s Washington Times about the Obama administration’s constant changing of commanders in Afghanistan, now totaling five different leaders in less than five years, inadvertently revealed the fatal flaw of America’s current military philosophy: we have substituted “stability” for victory. Retired Army General McCaffrey Barry, who played an integral part in removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991, alluded to this reality. “We should have kept a team of senior people together in Afghanistan for five years at a time,” he told The Times. “What kind of medium-complexity business would continually shuffle the leadership? All this turnover at the top had a detrimental effect on the broad direction of the war.”

The “broad direction of the war”? The Taliban government was ousted from power in December 2001 – four months after 9/11. It has taken America another eleven years to turn that victory into the politically correct debacle of nation-building that has brought us to the verge of defeat, even as 2,181 American service members have paid the ultimate for protecting the likes of Hamid Karzai and his kleptocratic regime, and for attempting to cultivate Jeffersonian democracy in a country that had never experienced anything remotely resembling it.

Somewhere along the line we forgot that our principal mission was protecting American national security. If that had remained our primary goal, and the Obama administration had actually fought to achieve it, we might have completely eliminated the key terrorist training center in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, instead of using drones to conduct surgical strikes that are promoted as noble efforts to prevent civilian casualties, but that in reality elevate the interests of the enemy over those of U.S. combat troops. We might have made the war against Islamic terror the kind of unrelenting hell that breaks the will of our enemies, as opposed to the half-hearted effort that encourages their patience.

“If you want to stay beyond 2014, all of you separately need to sign agreements with the Afghan people,” Mr. Karzai said Sunday, responding to the idea that NATO allies will comprise much of the residual force left behind after the U.S. withdraws next year. “Limited numbers, in a location we chose and under our conditions and framework, with respect for our laws, our sovereignty, our traditions and culture.”

If Karzai believes that the U.S. has failed to exhibit this deference in our current engagement, he would hate to see American power at work fighting to actually win a war. But that is in fact the problem. Why would any Afghan take American resolve seriously when neither Chuck Hagel nor President Obama will do anything other than express their dismay regarding Karzai’s charges while endlessly repeating their love and good-will toward Afghanistan and its people? In that regard, White House Secretary Jay Carney didn’t fail to disappoint. “Any suggestion the United States is colluding with the Taliban is categorically false,” Carney declared. “The United States has spent enormous blood and treasure for the past 12 years supporting the Afghan people … in the effort to ensure stability and security in that country. The last thing we would do is support any kind of violence, particularly involving innocent civilians.”

Hagel was equally obsequious. ”I told [Karzai] it was not true that the United States was unilaterally working with the Taliban in trying to negotiate anything,” Hagel said. “I think he understands where we are and where we’ve been and hopefully where we’re going together.” The Obama administration’s objective now is to maintain this facade of collaboration until 2014. By the time Afghanistan fully unravels, it will be someone else’s responsibility. Few will think to ask by then why so many lives were squandered in service to the managed failure of the Left’s “good war.”

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    In NO small measure, the blood of many American soldiers is on the hands of Obama & surrogates. In fact, whether or not the campaigns were the "right" ones to begin with – Iran should have been the FIRST target…but never mind – the fact of the matter is that the dhimmitude of the military assured that many braves soldiers died under its banner.
    Let's be real – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/09/08/clash-of-civi

    A pox on their heads – Washington's leaders!

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • EarlyBird

      Honey, when you start wailng about the blood on the hands of W. Bush, and trillions of dollars wasted on a counter-productive, evil war in Iraq, then we might start taking you seriously, rathern than Lady Gobbels.

      And of course, had Obama not doubled down in Afghanistan and just pulled out troops out like he should have, you'd be saying the same thing, that he has "blood of many American soldiers" on his hands. Because you're a lying hack.

      And you'll still be advocating for more US soldiers' blood being spilled on behalf of your country, Israel.

      • ziontruth

        "And you'll still be advocating for more US soldiers' blood being spilled on behalf of your country, Israel."

        How DARE you accuse someone of being like Goebbels when you spout this neo-Nazi ZOG canard! Filth like you belongs on a cesspool like Stormfront!

        • EarlyBird

          So, not only do you continuously deny that it is the US which has kept Israel afloat diplomatically, militarily and often financially over its lifetime, with enormous, painful cost to America…

          But now you deny that Israel Firsters like Adina aren't trying to get us to fight another war in the Middle East, this one against Iran, on behalf of Israel.

          And you have the chutzpah to be indignant about it!

          Iran is your problem, not ours. Perhaps you should lobby Bibi to just do a first strike with your 100+ nukes and get it over with? Then you'll be free to commit your desired holocaust against Gaza and West Bank Arabs.

          The good news is that you are becoming less and less able to lead conservative Americans around the nose. The Israel First/neocon grips is loosening.

      • Mary Sue

        evil war in Iraq? Dude what have you been smoking? Saddam had to go.

        • EarlyBird

          Saddam's death wasn't the evil part, Mary Sue. It was the, you know, 4,000+ dead Americans, 50,000+ seriously wounded Americans, 100,000 killed and countless maimed Iraqis, 500,000 Iraqi refugees, countless orphans and widows on both sides, a completely traumatized Iraqi population, and ONE TRILLION DOLLARS that was the evil part.

          Clear, dear?

      • Mike in VA

        First of all, our country didn't waste trillions of dollars in Iraq. Secondly, getting rid of a rogue terrorist-sponsoring regime in Baghad that had already dragged us into one war in the ME and was sure to do so again, while handing al Qaeda a strategic defeat in what they declared the central battleground of their global jihad can hardly be considered "counter-productive". Thirdly, I'll remind you that many of your fellow co-travelers on the Left – most notably Bill Clinton – supported regime change and the authorization of the use of force in Iraq for many reasons.

        I'll grant that Obama was presented with no easy options in Afghanistan when he took office in 2009, but he never needed to double-down in that country. That is a questionable decision he is going to have to live with, and as a partisan hack yourself, you're going to have to live with the criticism that comes with that decision and the lives that were lost on account of it.

        • EarlyBird

          Mike, Iraq wasn't AQ's central battleground until we invaded, occupied and smashed that country.

          I also don't think W. Bush inherited any good options, either. Something had to be done about Saddam and the crumbling 12 year long sanctions and "no fly zones," etc. But he didn't have to invade and occupy.

          He and the neocons came up with an overly clever plan to remake the ME and chose Iraq as the place to do it. It was an epic, counter productive failure which made Iraq an AQ headquarters, Iran stronger, and the US weaker.

          • Mike in VA

            Bird,
            There was no way to rid Iraq and the world of Saddam's regime without invading and occupying that country.

            In the final analysis, it doesn't matter when AQ declared Iraq the central battleground of its global jihad. All that matters is that it suffered a humiliating strategic defeat on that battleground – a defeat that could only be suffered in the heart of the Arab Middle East (not the remote hinterlands of the Pashtun Hindu Kush), which any student of History could also tell you was the former seat of the Abbasid Caliphate that those nostalgic psychopaths hoped to resurrect in all its medieval glory.

            You'll never convince me that ridding the world of Saddam's Tikriti mafia and handing AQ a defeat on what it declared the central battleground of the global jihad was an "epic, counter-productive failure". Had Obama realized what had happened in Al-Anbar by the time he took office in 2009, he would have known better than to double down in Afghanistan.

      • Drakken

        You really don't know what your talking about, again, your hero Obummer is making the middle and far east less stable.

        • EarlyBird

          Adina, that b**ch, will demand complete American subservience to Israel, and if it's not to her liking she calls for a "pox" on America's leaders. To hell with her. As a red, white and blue Marine you should be apalled by her.

  • Asher

    Deception was Christ's first warning to the terminal generation. America is living in deception. More degrees than sense. Deceived about abortion which is really genocide, economically headed toward Greece, and specifically that our leaders can sit down with radical islamic terrorists and come to a common understanding that will bring any kind of lasting peace. American blood spilled for no good reason will be our downfall! There are warnings in the sky Joel 2:30 talks about signs and wonders in the heavens, asteroids or meteors that hit Russia and several other countries, comets, eclipses on certain days such as Passover and Sukkot to come in 2014 and 2015. Nasa has confirmed this too, not just the bible. Earthquakes in various places, California had 3 yesterday, volcanoes, plagues, famines. We are being given signs as to man's depravity and people seem in a daze.

    • EarlyBird

      Asher, Satan is the great deciever. This entire site is built on propagating lies and filth and deceit.

      • Drakken

        Your failure to understand the world is really mind boggling, obviously Berserkly didn't educate you, it just filled your empty head with empty retoric of the leftist/progressive mindset, the west is bad, the 3rd good. Your completely bloody hopeless.

  • Mach1Duck

    Karzai is so corrupt, he is treading a fine line. The sad part is, our government knows it and accepts it at the cost of American troops.

    • EarlyBird

      Yes, it's disgusting. It's to keep a sense of stability and continuity. Also, all politics being local, Karzai mouths off every now and then to look like he's not owned by the US government.

      I just hope that when our final troops leave, Karzai has an unfortunate plane accident as he flies to Paris with bags full of money.

      • Drakken

        Karzai's money is already out of the country.

  • dartson

    While I support the author's assertion that the nation building effort in Afghanistan is a total failure, I don't see how a victory could be achieved. Taliban still exists because it has a massive support from the population that does not really want "democracy", "human rights" and other Western inventions that would prevent an average Afghan man from beating the sh*t out of his three 12-years old wives, following the prophet example. No amount of bombing this or that region would change this barbaric mentality. The US should have nuked the place after 9/11 as a lesson to all terrorist supporting regimes instead of wasting the blood and treasure on building a Western democracy in a country that still has not come out of the Dark Ages.

    • EarlyBird

      Other than the nuking part, I agree.

      As for the nation building I also agree it has not been a "total" failure, but what we've built there is likely not to last very long. We can hope that when we do leave, we will have encouraged a lot of people to imagine a life beyond the hell they know. Girls will know something about education, people will realize that road, that hospital, that electricity grid, though destroyed by the returning Taliban, was built by the US and that the US wasn't all just about killing.

      As a pharmacist I know who left Afghanistan at 12 years old for the US once told me, "9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to my country," meaning, all the building we've tried to do there.

      But time to leave.

      • Drakken

        Your clearly effing delusional, once we leave the taliban will take over and the northern alliance will come back with a vengeance to take whatever territorry it can before the taliban take over.

        • EarlyBird

          Any way you slice it, the country will return back to a tribal hell hole. Unless you drop in via parachute, a Kabar clenched between your teeth, ready to clean the place up with your "mailed fist."

  • Brujo Blanco

    We cannot continue to try and help people that will not support us. We need to support those that respond positively to our assistance. The most distressing aspect.of these situations are the Rules of Engagement. We have rules.but the opposition has no rules. Our military members in many instances.cannot defend.themselves from deadly attacks. The Obama administration has no regard for the military at all. We are obviously not engaged in military operations to win. We are invoked.for.pure political reasons. If we do.not.plan on.winning we need to go home.

    • EarlyBird

      Sadly, Brujo, we've always been there for purely political reasons. To Bush's credit, he did "take his eye off the ball," and had no heart for the nation building exercise there. Even though we hear so much about these "green on blue" attacks, and IDEs that kill our boys there, the US is basically whooping the Taliban in military terms. It's the other terms, the transformation of the country into an orderly, decent place, which we have zero control over.

      Indeed, the entire mission, from beginning to end, has been political.

  • A guest

    Sometimes the truth hurts and in our case it kills. A Deployed AF troop in Bagram

  • geneww1938

    Billions have been spent and what most see as a grave failure has been seen as a great revenue for the few and the drug supply has not decreased. Follow the money … fortunately, eternal salvation has been paid for.

  • RiverFred

    Blah, blah ,blah, prove Karzai's conspiracy theory incorrect and just get the hell out of there. What better way to get rid of of these nut cases, let them fight each other to death.

    • EarlyBird

      Agreed.

  • EarlyBird

    Facts everyone knows, even while they pretend they don't:

    1. Hagel's visit was purely PR to show that he's on the job, and to meet Karzai. Nobody expected to "accomplish" much of anything, so the implication that it was a failure is a ridiculous lie.

    2. Karzai has been a corrupt, unreliable, double-dealing weasel since he was installed by Bush, and he's always going to be one.

    3. The mission to purge Afghanistan of the Taliban and recreate a civil society there was a pipe dream – and unnecessary one – to begin with.

    4. No matter how long we are there, or what we do, it will ultimately fall back into its natural state of brutal, primitive Islam.

    5. Obama's only reason for adding troops was to try to save some American face in this losing venture, say we tried, and to avoid being tarred by right wingers as having "cut and run" in Afghanistan.

    6. If he had pulled our troops out immediately, hacks like Adina would be saying he has "blood on his hands." Because he increased troops, hacks like Adina are saying he has "blood on his hands."

  • marios

    Leftists started wars but never they won it. What the reason to waste life of our kids if Leftists government want our country defeat?
    Everything Obama and his accomplices are doing for only one purpose to keep their Power forever in our country. Even more, Clinton wanted to be President of World wide government and it is obvious Obama's goal. Treason is from the top of US government what all that Obama's (and Dem's party current leadership) politic means. They betray our troops, they don't care about anyone lives, they betray our country. Obama Pres.-community organizer lies non-stop.
    Karzai yes corrupted Islamic despot, however right that this administration conduct negotiations with Taliban behind his back. It is tragedy that this socialists bribed by taxpayers money 50% of population and have their support in respond for "free lunches".

  • marios

    It is Big Difference between Pres. Bush and our Muslim Pres. Obama. MSM brainwashed even not stupid. Propaganda machine work very well for socialists-Dem's. Dem's from the beginning did utmost to prevent Bush win war on Islamic terrorism. Abu- Greib, Guantanamo, Pink Ladies scoundrel Soros organization, Sheehan … Senator Durbin, Nancy Pelosi went to Saudi Arabia and blamed Bush and our country for Muslim discrimination after 9/11 in the beginning of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama is not naive or just incompetent but he is doing to reach his goal. He wanted our country be defeated and that is why he provided withdraw our troops for Taliban. Islamists including Taliban understand him much better than most of our citizens. They spoke on the same language. that is why all Muslims here voted for Obama despite "Osama bin Laden is dead" etc…

  • http://americanpatriotcouncil.com/ Mike in VA

    “Mission accomplished: Thousands of American lives wasted for failure.”

    This is the price that all too many Americans paid so Barack Obama could “prove” that he was tough on national defense by compensating for his cowardly and faithless eagerness to wave the white flag of surrender in Iraq instead of supporting the Surge.

    • EarlyBird

      Mike, you are beyond hope.

    • slider 96

      Brainwashed teabagger is what you are Mike . BTW , wasn't it GW who said " Mission Accomplished " ?

      • Walt

        No it wasn't! You are buying into the liberal and MSM tripe that lied about that as well as many other aspects of the Iraq war. The banner which stated "Mission Accomplished" was made by the ship's Commanding Officer to reflect their successful deployment, and was (Kudos) directed towards the ship's company and the rest of the fleet.

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion ~ but often facts get in the way and color the 'opinion' as bogus, left wing propaganda that is unbecoming to an American with principals and honor.

        • EarlyBird

          Nobody is suggesting that Bush, the POTUS, physically climbed up that superstructure to mount the sign himself. Okay? But it was part of Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier to explain that the initial military phase of the operation was over and "accomplished."

          That said, I supported the war originally, though I knew W was gilding the lilly about Saddam's "WMD" and links to AQ. To Bush's credit, after 9/11 he wanted to overthrow the status quo in the ME, first by smashing Saddam's rotten regime, and then creating a base from which to project American power.

          But it was such an epic failure, it literally is going to take us a generation or more to recover. It deeply damaged the US, helped Iran and therefore Hezbollah and Hamas, created a whole new playground for AQ… and that's not even talking about the tragic loss of human life, and the $1 trillion hole in the US budget.

          Conservatives need to admit, loudly, that it was a disaster, or the GOP is never going to be trusted with national security again.

  • John Stone

    >> win war on Islamic terrorism. – The thing you have got to get is that Islamic terrorism arises from the culture, not the political leadership. That is why nothing much changes with a conventional military victory. As for changing the local culture, to quote Stalin, "Religion is like a nail, the harder you hit it, the deeper it goes." Unless we are going to be the new permanent occupiers of the Islamic world, there really is no reason for us to linger.

  • Edward Cline

    I suggest leaving the Afghans to themselves, debouching from the piss hole as soon as possible, but first freezing all of Karzi's money assets in whichever banks they might be found. Let the Tabiban behead him.

    • EarlyBird

      Yes!

  • slider 96

    Oh wait a minute Ahlert , this is Bush's war , and the decisions made are the same as what the Bush Admin would do . . Getting us the hell out is what Bush would have done himself at this point .

    • EarlyBird

      Slider, suggestions by the propagandists who write for this site that Obama has lost Afghanistan, are of course ludicrous and repulsive lies.

      But as an Obama supporter myself, I need to accept that Obama's big Afghanistan push was in fact his own decision, and at this point, whether he inherited it or not, we can reasonably call it "Obama's war."

      The original idea that we would would not only push out AQ and the Taliban from that country, but remake it safe for democracy, was a fool's errand to begin with. Obama has been trying to help the US save face, and build up the Afghan government (to the point those Keystone Kops can be), so we can get the EFF out.

  • Barb

    Get us OUT of these useless and costly wars that are costing us entire generations of the BEST OF OUR BEST! We will have so many maimed young troops living the rest of their lives with PROSTHETIC LIMBS, living in pain and for what?! BRING OUR TROOPS HOME AND STOP THE WAR MACHINE NOW!!!

  • http://myfcpediatrics.com/article/article.php?id=1450 Rufus

    Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is existing on net?