“We have the ability to rule and govern our country [Afghanistan] and we have our sovereignty. We hope that NATO countries and the U.S. pay attention”
–Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking to Afghan civil servants, August 7, 2010. (Quoted in: The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2010)
Hey, that’s great news. They “have the ability to rule their country”. And nobody told President Obama? Just a quick phone call to General David Petraeus, discuss a few details, and presto: all US and NATO troops go home. Why do we need the end of year review for our Afghan strategy? Why start withdrawing troops only in July 2011? Let’s pack and go home now. Apparently our policies have been wildly successful. They can do whatever needs to be done on their own. Or so the President of Afghanistan says.
Alright, I was kidding. But was President Karzai also kidding? This was an official speech delivered to an audience of government officials. If he was not kidding, then his statement, as a minimum incorrect, is troubling. One thing is a pep talk aimed at boosting morale of perhaps wavering civil servants, quite another is to misrepresent basic facts.
It is quite obvious that all of us would like to see an Afghan Government in total control and capable of running its business, including providing internal security and improving the country’s primitive economy.
Aspirations and reality are different things
But let’s not mix aspirations and today’s reality. Afghanistan is still a mess; and likely to be a mess for quite a while –even assuming great success of US actions there. (As I have written elsewhere in my www.SchirachReport.com , I have strong doubts about them).