In response to newly published photos of U.S. troops happily manipulating the remains of dead Afghans, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that an accelerated withdrawal of Western troops must take place in order to avoid such “inhumane and provocative” acts.
In a statement issued by presidential palace less than 24 hours after the Los Angeles Times released the images, Karzai said demanded an “accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces, so Afghanistan can take over its own destiny, and thus no such things can be repeated by the foreign forces in Afghanistan.”
The release controversy comes at a time when the Obama administration is losing its grip on the war. The last few months have held a number of high-profile failures and embarrassments, including a video depicting U.S. soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses, the U.S. Army’s burning of Muslim holy books that sparked country-wide protests and violence and an unprovoked slaughter of 17 Afghan civilians. Then, last weekend the insurgency began its aggressive spring offensive with spectacular coordinated attacks across the country.
Public support for the war is at an all-time low and some nations with troops on the ground in Afghanistan, like France and Australia, have announced they will be drawing down their troops up to a year before the official withdrawal date at the end of 2014.
Also Thursday, the Taliban, issued a statement on the photos, denouncing the “gruesome acts” of U.S. soldiers. American commentators have excused largely the soldiers’ behavior, but one can imagine how angry and horrified they would be if the Taliban released similar photos.
The fact that the war is lost is virtually accepted wisdom at this point. Accepting a weak, corrupt Afghan government that will have to welcome Taliban rule in some capacity is readily admitted. “It’s up to the Taliban, and other adversaries of the new order in Afghanistan,” said U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, “whether they will reconcile with it or be part of it, or whether they will continue to fight.”