The US is still in the process of trying to get a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) in place to keep US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. As negotiations with the Afghan government continue to stall, Secretary of State John Kerry spurned questions about troop immunity, insisting that troops always operate under the same standard, and Afghanistan should expect no different from Japan or Korea in that regard.
Kerry’s comments sought to defer Afghan requests to maintain jurisdiction over US troops in the event of certain war crimes, while the US has insisted the troops retain full immunity, and was an effort to kill the debate by arguing that the pact was just standard boilerplate.
The comments were also flat out untrue, as US status of forces agreements vary wildly across the world, with jurisdiction different in almost every single pact, and full immunity is the exception, not the rule.
Indeed, Kerry’s comments were doubly wrong because the deals with Japan and South Korea actually both grant them some jurisdiction over US troops, and both nations have tried US troops in their own courts, the exact same standard the Karzai government has sought, and which Kerry has rejected.
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