For Susan Rice, Love of Endless War Means Never Having to Say US Is Sorry

Yesterday evening, reports appeared in both the New York Times and Khaama Press in Afghanistan that the final hurdle for the Bilateral Security Agreement had been cleared and that US President Barack Obama would sign a letter to be read at the loya jirga. The letter would note that the US has made mistakes in its war efforts in Afghanistan. Further, the letter would convey an apology along with a pledge to avoid repeating the mistakes in which innocent Afghan citizens suffered.

But for the endless war faction within the US military and government, an apology just won’t do (even if there was one to Pakistan that finally reopened the supply routes after the US killed 24 Pakistani border troops). National Security Advisor Susan Rice immediately got time with Wolf Blitzer on CNN to nip the idea of an apology in the bud:

“No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“Quite the contrary, we have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that (letter of apology) is not on the table.”

Rice said she has seen news reports but has no idea where they are coming from, describing the claims as a “complete misunderstanding of what the situation is.”

Here’s the video:

[youtuber youtube=’’]

I’m surprised she didn’t go all the way to insisting on an apology from Afghanistan for being ungrateful for all the freedom we’ve unleashed on them.

The Times version of the story has been through a number of changes. Note that the url retains the early headline for the story “Key Issue Said to be Resolved in US-Afghan Security Talks”. The story now reflects the push-back from Rice, but it also shows that diplomats are focusing on a letter anyway (but of course now can’t call it an apology):

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss continuing negotiations, was more noncommittal, saying that a letter acknowledging past issues like civilian casualties was a possibility being weighed. “We will consider his request for reassurances, including the option of a letter from the administration stating our position,” the official said.

Under the Afghan description, in return for the letter, Mr. Karzai would then accept wording that allowed American Special Operations raids to search and detain militants within Afghan homes, but only under “extraordinary circumstances” to save the lives of American soldiers. That would seem to greatly hamper the American intent behind those operations, which commanders have said are critical to taking the fight directly to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

The Washington Post goes further on the letter and suggests that it will indeed be signed by Obama and delivered:

A last-minute hitch in the agreement over a post-2014 U.S. military presence in Afghanistan appeared to have been resolved Tuesday as the United States agreed to put certain assurances in a letter to Afghans that is likely to be signed by President Obama, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

The assurances will include a pledge that U.S. troops will enter Afghan homes only in exceptional circumstances to save lives, as well as what has become a standard U.S. expression of regret for Afghan suffering and the loss of innocent lives in the 12-year-old war.

The proposed letter is to be read to an assembly of more than 2,500 Afghan elders and officials, scheduled to start Thursday in Kabul, that will consider whether to endorse the long-term security agreement with the United States. Obama’s final decision on signing the letter will depend on wording that is still under discussion.

The president “is not averse to signing,” said a senior administration official, one of several who discussed the talks on the condition of anonymity. “One way or the other,” the official said, “it’s going to be worked out in the next 24 hours.”

Oh. I see. So the US will now “assure” Afghanistan that after 2014, its death squads will only enter Afghan homes under “exceptional circumstances”. Of course, in the mindset of folks like Susan Rice and William McRaven (who now is in charge of Special Operations Command), every single night raid carried out is exceptional. And it is carried out based on intelligence that is so secret that it can’t possibly be shared with Afghanistan’s government or military (who are sovereign and all that, but can’t really be trusted, now, can they?).

As Don Bacon reminded us in comments last night, we need only consider the number of times the US lied while pretending to hand over full control of Parwan Prison to see how much value Afghanistan should place on any assurance from the US relating to changing its behavior on night raids.

And as for Karzai now giving his blessing to US troop immunity as part of the BSA, a similar caution applies to the US assurance that troops will be subject to prosecution under US laws for crimes committed in Afghanistan. Just consider all the evidence of crimes that Matthieu Aikins uncovered on the Nerkh killings, with the US still maintaining no US personnel committed any crimes or that Zacharia Kandahari remained in Facebook contact with his team even while he was supposedly on the run from being handed over by the US to Afghanistan. Rest assured that US death squads will view this portion of the agreement as full immunity from criminal charges since the US has charged so few troops compared to the number of crimes that have been committed.


21 replies
  1. harpie says:

    Getting on their knees and f’n pleading “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” until the world ends wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of being a beginning of “enough”, and they can’t even admit the need for that?

    There are not enough circles in the Inferno.

  2. Betty says:

    What would be the value of these assurances (for what they’re worth) if merely put in a letter from the President and not included in the agreement itself? Certainly not binding on any future President.

  3. joanneleon says:

    Wow. What a charmer.

    I’ve been waiting to hear from you on this news, Jim. Thanks.

    I still don’t understand why we stay in Afghanistan. After years of reading, watching, trying to understand, I still really don’t. I know about the bits and pieces of reasons but none of it seems strong enough to stay in that hell especially when most Americans want nothing to do with it, when we’ve only made things worse and we still don’t have a strategy that works, when it’s costing a bloody fortune and when with each passing day they hate us even more.

    Why are we staying in Afghanistan indefinitely? Does anybody really know?

  4. Frank33 says:

    At last year’s ball she joked: “People have called me brusque, aggressive, abrasive. Of course, they don’t say that to my face, because they know I’d kick their butts.”

    Of course Susan Rice is a public liar. She catapulted the Benghazi false history given to her by Vickie Nuland and Team Petraeus. She kicked butt in Libya. Rice gets credit for supporting the Droning of Ghaddafi which has “destabilized” Libya.

    Rice is motivated by the Genocide that occurred in Rwanda. That motivates her to create genocides all over the world. She is working to make Afghanistan and Iran and Syria go down in flames.

    “I swore to myself if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

    Rice is kicking butt in Afghanistan, forever. And Obama is kicking leftist butt with NSA COINTELPRO.

  5. joanneleon says:

    I wonder how much that immunity agreement will cost us. I’ve heard knowledgeable people say that the immunity agreement would never happen. One of my guesses would be that our govt somehow assured the Karzai crew that they’d remain in power, by hook or by crook. And of course there’s got to be a lot of graft with the key people who have to agree t it all taken care of very well.

    What it looks like to me is that we got to enough people to essentially maintain the status quo. I am willing to bet that we’re going to replace a significant number of the occupying forces with contractors and maintain as close to the status quo as possible, though I guess they’ll have to just forget about some regions entirely. The thing is, why were they not able to negotiate this agreement a long time ago?

  6. TarheelDem says:

    The enemy that the US faces in Afghanistan at this point is Dolchstoßlegende, not so much the Taliban. This “toughness” kabuki is addressed to that as much as anything else. And to not undercutting Susan Rice’s career path to Secretary of State. Institutional pressures at State and Defense want to keep a large contingent (and their accompanying budgets and labor counts in Afghanistan). The public is ready to get out. Watch the administration play heavy on the “honor” card as it maneuvers Karzai and his loya jirga to ask us to leave by being hardnosed about immunity for US soldiers and especially US contractors.

    And the fact that we are leaving means that those institutional actors in State, Defense, and the intelligence community are going to be playing their journalist mouthpieces to entrap us in a longer commitment. The military was given every opportunity to make a better solution happen; they failed to deliver. From the point of view of the White House, the US military cannot deliver what it promises. No more wasting of resources in Afghanistan; let’s waste resources somewhere else.

    Dear American people. This geography lesson is over. Everyone but veterans who were there are now free to forget where Afghanistan is. Just like Vietnam; just like Kuwait; just like Iraq.

    The major issue to watch out for is the DoD folks slow-walking the evacuation of Bagram until the next administration. Or Karzai falling so quickly that Congress panicked and wants to re-engage.

    Odds are that we are not staying in Afghanistan indefinitely.

  7. Don Bacon says:

    The basic issue in Afghanistan is sovereignty.

    The Taleban statement said:

    … it is not astonishing that the American soldiers are making fun of him and slapping him on the face because it is the philosophy of invaders that they scorn their stooge at the end; even they do not deal with him as human being and in this way punish him for his slavery!

    Afghanistan is a sovereign nation.

    –SecState Clinton, in Kabul on Jul 7, 2012: Afghanistan is a ‘major non-Nato ally’.
    –President Obama, Jan 11, 2013: “Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission — training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. . . .And finally, we reaffirmed the Strategic Partnership that we signed last year in Kabul — an enduring partnership between two sovereign nations.”

    But maybe not–

    State, May 2013: “Secretary Kerry also affirmed that he and President Karzai remain committed to the same strategy and the same goal of a stable, sovereign Afghanistan, responsible for its own security and able to ensure that it can never again be a safe haven for terrorists.
    -Obama hedges in January 2013: “… by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete – Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.”
    -General Dunford the military czar doles out “sovereignty” to Karzai: “we’re balancing increased Afghan sovereignty with a continued presence of coalition forces here who exercise a piece of that sovereignty by definition because we’re in the middle of a conflict.

    Give the final word to Kate Clark:

    How can Afghanistan possibly behave like a sovereign country when there are tens of thousands of foreign troops on the ground and foreign governments pay almost entirely for the police and army and for 60 to 80 per cent of the rest of the budget?

    We’re told that after this winter drawdown there will be 34,000 US troops in Afghanistan, which would be 4,000 more than when Obama became president Jan 2009. Plus 85,000 civilian spies, killers and workers.

    The Loya Jirga and the parliament will consider this sovereignty issue before any further obeisance to the US.

  8. joanneleon says:

    @TarheelDem: I really hope that you’re right. A number of people whose opinion I trust are saying this deal will be nixed by the loya jirga, that their lives depend on it and if they approve the deal, they’re dead.

  9. Don Bacon says:

    a photo from Stars and Stripes
    An Afghan policeman smokes hashish during a partnered patrol with 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment just north of Forward Operating Base Pasab located in southern Aghanistan’s Zhari district, Kandahar Province, on Oct. 21, 2013.

  10. Don Bacon says:

    Feb 28, 2013 — General Joseph Dunford: “I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed.”

    Oct 23, 2012 — Gen. John R. Allen: “I offer my sincerest condolences to the families of the civilians that were killed. Additionally, I am committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those harmed and we will meet with them personally to offer a condolence payment and express our deep regrets.”

    Sep 16, 2012 — Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the ISAF international forces, said ISAF had been made aware of “possible ISAF-caused civilian casualties” numbering five to eight, extending its sincerest condolences over the “tragic loss of life”.

    Jun 6, 2012 — General John Allen: “I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families.”

    March, 2010 — Gen. Stanley McChrystal: “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

  11. Frank33 says:

    @Don Bacon:
    General Allen is the victim here. Just because he was emailing dozens of emails every day to Jill Kelley, he came under investigation. Only a few of these emails were inappropriate. While winning the War in Afghanistan, he actually was there in Afghanistan for months at a time. Booyah!

    “I had to reflect on whether I could– I believed I could remain in command. And I believed I could. In fact, I felt an obligation to a duty to remain in command…I had to deal with– the realities of something that was going on back here. I won’t– tell you that– that there wasn’t a lot of pressure in that regard. But my sense of duty to the war effort, and more importantly, my sense of duty to the troops demanded that I remained focused on that,” he said…

    Allen later invited Petraeus to his retirement party – saying he couldn’t retire without Petraeus and his wife present given the close relationship between the families.

    “Dave and Holly Petraeus are like family…given all that he and I had experienced together, and our families had had together, I couldn’t retire without asking for Dave and Holly Petraeus to be present, ” he said.

    Allen added that said he has not discussed the investigation with Petraeus.

  12. harpie says:


    “I honestly don’t know where the idea of an apology started,” Kerry said. “But let me be clear: President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology.”

  13. olivia says:


    We are in Afghanistan in order to encircle China. So, geo-politicas, empire, and oh, there is a pipeline in there as well (if you google it, I think Greg Palast has a tone of info on it).

  14. Don Bacon says:

    A tale of two presidents and their actions:

    George W. Bush
    –Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq

    Barack Obama
    –The United States and Afghanistan have reached a deal on the final language of a bilateral security agreement, guiding the role of American troops in that south Asian nation for years to come, America’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

    Change you can believe in.

  15. Don Bacon says:

    Nov 20, 2013

    Unless otherwise mutually agreed, United States forces shall not conduct combat operations in Afghanistan.

    the United States shall undertake supporting activities, as may be agreed, in close cooperation and coordination with Afghanistan, to assist ANDSF in developing capabilities required to provide security for all Afghans including as may be mutually agreed: advising, training, equipping, supporting, and sustaining ANDSF…

    The Parties recognize that ANDSF are responsible for securing the people and territory of Afghanistan. The Parties shall work to enhance ANDSF’s ability …

    The Parties acknowledge that U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism. [General Dunford: 50-75 al Qaeda in Afghanistan] The Parties agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward those ends, with the intention of protecting U.S. and Afghan national interests without unilateral U.S. military counter-terrorism operations. U.S. military counter-terrorism operations are intended to complement and support ANDSF’s counter-terrorism operations, with the goal of maintaining ANDSF lead, and with full respect for Afghan sovereignty and full regard for the safety and security of the Afghan people, including in their homes.

    United States forces may undertake transit, support, and related activities, …

    Afghanistan, while retaining its sovereignty, recognizes the particular importance of disciplinary control, including judicial and non-judicial measures, by the United States forces authorities over members of the force and of the civilian component. Afghanistan therefore agrees that the United States shall have the exclusive right to exercise jurisdiction over such persons in respect of any criminal or civil offenses committed in the territory of Afghanistan. Afghanistan authorizes the United States to hold trial in such cases, or take other disciplinary action, as appropriate, in the territory of Afghanistan.

  16. Don Bacon says:

    Afghanistan wants to delay crucial U.S. security deal

    KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai told his countrymen on Thursday a vital security pact with the United States should not come into effect until after next year’s election and conceded there was little trust between the two countries.

    “This pact should be signed when the election has already taken place, properly and with dignity,” Karzai, who cannot run in the 2014 vote under the constitution, told the elders.

    A senior Afghan official speaking on condition of anonymity said Karzai intended to leave the pact unsigned until he was sure the international community would not interfere in the election.

    Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, confirmed that, adding that the grand assembly and parliament also had to approve the pact.

    “Once we are assured of peace and security, and transparent elections, then President Karzai will sign this pact after the election if this is approved by the Loya Jirga and passed by the parliament,” Faizi said.

    As I indicated in my #8, Karzai is concerned about sovereignty (and his longevity). He apparently was handed a note that was not favorable to the BSA nor to his health.

  17. Don Bacon says:

    Obama’s Full Letter to Afghan President Karzai on Security Agreement
    His Excellency
    Hamid Karzai
    President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

    Dear Mr. President:

    I am pleased that we have reached agreement on the text of a Bilateral Security Agreement that will enable the United States and Afghanistan to implement the promise of our Strategic Partnership. This is a strong agreement for both our countries, which provides the foundation to continue our cooperation to build a better future for Afghanistan. It provides the basis for cooperating in a new context after 2014, when the International Security Assistance Force mission will have ended, the number of U.S. forces will be much reduced, and a sovereign Afghanistan will be responsible for its security, with the support of the international community. In that new context, America’s role in Afghanistan will be one of a supporting partner. Under this Agreement, we will be cooperating in training, advising, and assisting your forces and in a targeted, smaller counterterrorism mission as we continue to help strengthen Afghanistan’s own growing counterterrorism capabilities. We look forward to concluding this agreement promptly. . . .

    Obama loves him that US “counterterrorism” mission AKA house raids and assassinations by various means. I’ll have to look again for it in the BSA — I missed it. But teh it’s just an executive agreement and not a treaty, by design, so Obama can and will (according to precedent) do whatever he wants.

  18. Don Bacon says:

    Also in the letter:

    As this new Agreement states, U.S. forces shall not enter Afghan homes for the purposes of military operations, except under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals. The U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s independence, territorial integrity, and national unity, as enshrined in our Strategic Partnership Agreement, is enduring, as is our respect for Afghan sovereignty.

    “Urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals” in Afghanistan must be protected by house raids on Afghans, but trust us on “our respect for Afghan sovereignty.” Obama must think Afghans are as stupid as he is.

Comments are closed.