Afghanistan's future? Same as it ever was: Bloody
OK, show of hands: Who thinks Afghanistan is headed for a peaceful future?
Yeah, me neither.
In an Op-Ed article Wednesday, Peter Thomsen, who served as U.S. special envoy and ambassador to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992, argues that any solution to the country's civil war must be brokered by the Afghans themselves.
He quotes a Jan. 24 statement by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: "Only Afghans can decide the future of Afghanistan."
But in a news story, also on Wednesday, Times reporter Laura King writes from Kabul that U.S. officials increasingly see Afghan President Hamid Karzai as "a prime impediment to urgent U.S. efforts to jump-start negotiations" with the Taliban.
Hmmm. Seems to me that what we have here is a failure to communicate.
If the Afghans themselves have to solve the problem, but the Afghans themselves can't agree on how to solve the problem, how is the problem going to get solved?
And what's really frustrating about the situation is that you get the feeling everyone involved knows how it's going to end but just doesn't want to admit it.
Actually, you could just go read about the Soviet Union's adventure in Afghanistan, then extrapolate:
- The United States and what's left of our NATO allies will pull out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
- Karzai and his corrupt cronies will be out of the picture shortly thereafter.
- The Taliban will slug it out with whatever warlords are left.
- A lot of Afghans will be killed in the process.
- Whichever side proves the most brutal -- and has the backing of Pakistan, so probably the Taliban -- will seize power.
Meanwhile, there's the little issue of the American lives that will be lost -- and the American dollars that will be wasted -- in this process.
At home, we're quarreling over cutting the social safety net. In Afghanistan, we're throwing dollars down a corrupt government's rat hole, a government that doesn't exist without those dollars and won't exist when American boots start walking.
So here's an idea: Pull out in six months. Save those lives. Save those dollars.
And yes -- sadly -- leave the Afghans to do what they've done for hundreds of years: Solve their own problems, in their own brutal way.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: President Hamid Karzai last month in Kabul. Credit: Shah Marai / AFP/Getty Images