Since he lobbied for and then obtained loya jirga approval of the Bilateral Security Agreement but then added new conditions before he would sign it, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has exasperated military planners in NATO and the US, confounded most of the Obama administration and spawned a growth industry among pundits trying to explain his actions. Karzai’s latest offering though, provides a delightful turning of the tables in which he has decided to characterize the actions of those who are pressuring him to sign the agreement. Here is how Tolo News described Karzai’s most recent gem:
Amidst highly public tensions with the United States over negotiating a long-term security deal for the coming years, President Hamid Karzai has said that the U.S. is behaving like a colonial power.
In a response to a somewhat leading question from the French newspaper Le Monde in an interview published Tuesday, “Do you think the USA is behaving like a colonial power,” President Karzai said:
“Absolutely. They threaten us by saying ‘We will no longer pay your salaries; we will drive you into a civil war.’ These are threats,” Karzai said. “If you want to be our partner, we must be friends. Respect Afghan homes, don’t kill their children and be a partner. So bluff or no bluff, we want respect for our commitment to the safety of Afghan lives and to peace in Afghanistan.”
I would have described the question from Le Monde as highly leading rather than somewhat leading, but Karzai’s response shows that he realizes that for those in his country, the situation indeed resembles colonialism with the US as the colonial power. And the US is clearly using that colonial positioning as a very blunt instrument with which to attempt to control Afghanistan. Karzai is telling us that only a colonial power would threaten to withhold salaries and generate a civil war. He wants the US to realize that he wants a partner and not a colonial overlord. The partner would have no trouble meeting his demands of secure homes and a negotiated peace with the Taliban.
I had missed it when it came out on Thanksgiving, but this Op-Ed in the New York Times could serve as Karzai’s primary example of colonial behavior by the US. It was penned by Michael O’Hanlon, who was perfectly described by Glenn Greenwald as a “really smart, serious, credible Iraq expert” who also clearly lends the same sort of intellectual firepower to his Afghanistan analysis and John Allen, the mental giant who opined that green on blue attacks in Afghanistan were caused by fasting at Ramadan (and appears to have found the perfect home for himself at Brookings with O’Hanlon after his retirement from the military). O’Hanlon and Allen open with a blast at Karzai’s lack of appreciation for all that the US has done for Afghanistan:
What is going on with President Hamid Karzai? The world’s only superpower, leading a coalition of some 50 nations, is willing to stay on in his country after a war that has already lasted a dozen years and cost the United States more than $600 billion and more than 2,000 fatalities — and yet the Afghan president keeps throwing up roadblocks.
Isn’t that just the height of ungratefulness? We (the world’s ONLY superpower!) waged war in Karzai’s country for twelve years, have offered to continue doing so and he has the gall to throw up roadblocks? Really!
But this paragraph is perhaps the height of colonial positioning by O’Hanlon and Allen: Continue reading