Speaking today on the growing rift with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, White House Press Secretary refused to answer direct questions of whether or not the US still considers Karzai an ally, saying only that “Karzai is the democratically elected leader of Afghanistan.”
When pressed further on the issue, Gibbs reiterated yesterday’s remarks that Karzai’s comments were “troubling,” and said the administration would continue to use “stern language” until Karzai tackles corruption.
The latest row with the US began when Karzai alleged last week that the US and UN had set up massive voter fraud in the August vote to try to deny him reelection. The comment was particularly galling as Karzai won in no small part on the back of fraudulent votes, and the US and UN repeatedly defended Karzai’s reelection in spite of this.
The claim could have been the end of things, but on Saturday Karzai gave a rambling anti-West speech to members of parliament in which he threatened to join the Taliban and followed it up yesterday with a reiteration of the alleged conspiracy.
Gibbs went so far as to say that while Karzai’s planned May visit was still scheduled “as of now” it was possible that the administration might uninvite Karzai if he continues to criticize them.
Though tensions between Karzai and the US are nothing new, the extent of the recent dispute seems to be unprecedented. Exactly how it will play out remains to be seen, but pressure for the US to show “progress” in the Afghan War could force a reaction against Karzai.
12 thoughts on “White House Won’t Say if Karzai Is Still an Ally”
Wow, I don't get it…it's almost as if the Afghans don't want us to invade and occupy their country.
Strange words, like "Diem" and "Madame Nhu" are running through my mind.
"it was possible that the administration might uninvite Karzai."
Oh, what a good idea. Cancel all the dashing here and there of all these heads of state and "experts." They all need some time alone in their chambers to think quietly about the misery, death and starvation they are inflicting on the planet and its inhabitants. It would also diminish the pollution that their jets spew on our heads..the same for all the military tanks, planes and jeeps that are transported from country to country as our uniformed and decorated generals discover countries we have not yet invaded.
We could call it "stay at home week" and the cherry on the cake… there would be no hearty handshakes and boring speeches for the cameras.
Diem specifically told Kennedy that he did not want huge numbers of American ground forces in South Vietnam–that they would be seen as foreign invaders and that they would turn a civil war into a perceived national war of liberation (which is in fact what happened under Johnson).
Diem did want trainers and advisers, and is indirectly responsible for Kennedy founding the Army Special Forces.
Diem also wanted US naval and air support for an attack on North Vietnam.
The Buddhist self-immolations and demonstrations were one of the pretexts for overthrowing Diem, which was executed with the collusion of both the CIA and Cabot Lodge, Kennedy's newly appointed ambassador to Vietnam. Diem was invited to go into exile and refused. The report was later that he had "accidentally" committed suicide.
The North Vietnamese (as is now known from various reliable documents) were flabbergasted that the US was stupid enough to kill Diem, and they realized immediately that they had won the war.
Apparently the real reason Diem was killed was that several elements of the US establishment feared Diem would negotiate with the Communists. In fact Diem and Ho Chi Minh knew one another personally, they were both nationalists, and Ho Chi Minh had actually offered the Interior Ministry to Diem after the French defeat and withdrawal from the north.
The role of rivalries between Catholics and Protestants in the US intelligence services has never been adequately discussed, though clearly the US Protestants were much more easily impressed than the Catholics on the subject of Diem's Catholicism being a supposed factor in the "Buddhist" opposition in the South.
Clearly the US military also wanted to intervene in its usual clumsy, barbaric, big-nose mode, at least partly to test new weapons and tactics.
At any rate two "Catholics"–Diem and Kennedy–were dead within about a month of one another and Johnson, though reluctant at first, intervened with ground troops in a big way.
There are some parallels with Karzai. Karzai from the beginning has been telling the US military that they are clumsily killing too many civilians–that in fact, their whole way of warfare is guaranteed to alienate the Afghan populace. Also Karzai has been trying to negotiate with some of the insurgents.
Interestingly enough, Karzai himself was installed after a small number of US troops helped the tribes themselves overthrow the Taliban, who were themselves mostly outsiders and resented by many of the Afghanis.
The US military until recently never listened to Karzai, and has often treated him and his advice with contempt. Also though the insurgents are still called "Taliban" many are much different from the earlier "Taliban", and much closer to a group of rhizomatic tribal forces fighting a war of liberation against the US and NATO big noses, who are now clearly foreign invaders.
Meanwhile the US has continually escalated, and in a big way under Obama.
Despite similarities, however, Karzai is wilier than Diem, and has a lot more options, including openings with the Iranians and Chinese, not to mention India and Pakistan or Russia.
Is his anti-US rhetoric just theater to garner domestic support and not look like a puppet? Perhaps partly but there are really no puppets in Afghanistan.
As the Pashtun tribesman said–"You can rent us but you cannot buy us."
It would be incredibly stupid for the US to kill Karzai, but the US policy makers are just as incredibly stupid as they were five decades ago–in fact probably much more stupid, and exponentially so, as is the whole US leadership and establishment, Republic and Democrat, foreign and domestic.
The real sea change recently is that the mainland Chinese have been making it clearer and clearer that they are not happy with the huge US mess on their border.
That may be part of Karzai's new stance as well.
US talk about "Afghan corruption" is naive. In fact, when it comes right down to it, the US at all levels is a hundred times more corrupt, officially and unofficially, than Afghans of any stripe.
One thing you can be sure of–Karzai did not make his remarks as a death wish. He knows both the Americans and the Afghans quite well and is nowhere as naive as Diem was.
There are also the ongoing negociations between Iran, Pakistan and India about a pipeline or gasline for the three countries.
Great job E.A.! Real good stuff. I didn't know all that about Diem, that he was pals with Ho Chi Minh. With Karzai you might wonder if he's just trying to distance himself from the U.S. because he figures some day not too far in the future we might more or less be gone. But then on the other hand, who in their right minds wouldn't be disgusted by the way the U.S. is running things over there, with their night raids, mass murders, abductions and torture. Still, Karzai must judge that people in Afghanistan generally hate the U.S. If our own handpicked guy is ready to switch sides it's time for the U.S. to leave.
Thank you E.A. Costa for the nice thumbnail of Vietnam folly with comparisons. All these colonial wars are the same. New faces, same game.. The latest wikileaks video won't change anything, but it's a start…There are Mai Lais out there but the press is hiding [mostly not their fault]…. It is so sad that the bright articulate Mr "O" couldn't get his thinking out of the doomed colonial box… It's worse how the current crop of African-American leaders are all STOOGES..of the empire and empire think… The same type of thinking that ran SLAVERY… Condolezzi Price, Colon Bowell.. & now "O"
O, I suppose that the JFK, Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy caliber of politicians were all victims of ???? Empire's killers..!! Not a group "O" would want to join……. It seems that "O" finds
himself in a no win situation… Does he end up a loser in AfPak dead like JFK or presiding over the dissolution of the evil empire like Breshnev
Obama will have to be sure to get the widows along with Karzai so he doesn't end up like JFK.
"At any rate two "Catholics"–Diem and Kennedy–were dead within about a month of one another and Johnson, though reluctant at first, intervened with ground troops in a big way. "
Isn’t this a great opportunty for the U.S. to get honourably and face saving out of the Afghanstan mess by making the “Democratically elected Government” request the US to exit the country before it is too late ?
The Great Obama needs to emulate his hero JFK., and do the same thing JFK did when he had Diem taken out behind the personnel carrier and shot in 1963. Just find a better puppet, and then have a squad of US troops take Karzai's entire family* out and shoot them.
(*) It is necessary to kill his entire clan when installing a new puppet so that his widows or brothers are not able to seek revenge against The Great Obama.
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