Karazai's Washington Visit: The War Awaiting Kandahar

in his usual attire of a colorful, striped robe, Afghan President Hamid
Karazai appeared more like an emperor as he began his fourth day in
Washington. Accompanying him on a somber visit to the Arlington
National Cemetery were US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and top US (and NATO)
commander in Afghanistan Stanley A. McChrystal - the very men
responsible for the war and occupation of his own country.

well-choreographed and clearly-rehearsed visit seemed set on giving the
impression that the relationship between Karzai and these men was that
of an independent, confident leader seeking the support of a benevolent

But what were Karazai's real reasons for visiting Washington?

media analyses have for months misrepresented the apparent chasm
between Afghanistan and the US under Obama's administration. Even if
this administration was genuinely discontented with Karazai's policies,
at least until very recently, the resentment had little to do with the
reasons offered by media 'experts'. It was not because Karazai was
failing to deliver on governance, end corruption and so on. Let's face
it, the US war in Afghanistan was never morally grounded, and it never
could be either. Not unless the militant mindset that governs US
foreign policy somehow acquires a complete overhaul.

now, let's face up to reality. Bad days are awaiting Afghanistan. True,
it is hard to imagine how Afghanistan's misfortunes could possibly get
any worse. But they will, particularly for those living in Kandahar in
the south. Seated next to Karazi during his Washington visit, Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton promised that her country will "not destroy
Kandahar in order to save Kandahar."

statement may sound assuring, but it is in fact ominous and very
troubling. Clinton was referring to the Bush administration's policy in
both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, she candidly admitted this by
saying, "This is not Fallujah," referring to the Iraqi city which was
almost completely destroyed in 2004 by a massive US Marine assault
intended to 'save' the city. "Lessons have been learned since Iraq,"
stated Clinton.

if lessons were truly learned, then why the fictitious language, the
silly assertion that the real intention is to in fact 'save' Kandahar?
And what other strategy does the US have in store for Afghanistan,
aside from the irritating debate on whether to use unmanned drones or
do the killing face to face?

Karazai in Washington to provide a cover for what is yet to come in the
Taliban's southern stronghold? It's not unlikely. Considering past and
repeated claims of a growing divide between Kabul and Washington, a
bloody attack on Kandahar could in fact be seen as the US acting
unilaterally in Afghanistan. Add to this scenario the constant and
continued calls made by Karazai himself to engage Taliban. A US
escalation without public consent from Karazai himself couldn't
possibly be seen as a part of a joint strategy.

a presentation at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Karazi
spoke of an extended US commitment to Afghanistan that would last
"beyond the military activity right now ... into the future, long after
we have retired, and perhaps into our grandsons' and great-grandsons'
-- and great-granddaughters' -- generations."

"This is something the Afghan people have been seeking for a long, long time," he said.

too was concerned about the plight of the 'people'. She promised to
"help the people of Kandahar to recover the entire city to be able to
put it to the use and the benefit of the people of Kandahar...We're not
fighting the Afghan people...We're fighting a small minority of very
dedicated, ruthless extremists who unfortunately are able to enlist
young men... for a variety of reasons and send them out onto the

Clinton wanted us to believe that the Bush era is over, with a new dawn
in US foreign policy upon us, she used almost the exact same language,
phrased in almost the exact same context that the Bush administration
used prior to its major military assaults aimed at 'saving the people'
from some 'ruthless extremists', whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And a major assault there will be, for the Taliban's counter-surge is threatening the US's counterinsurgency operations.

quick scan of an article by Marie Colvin in Marjah, Afghanistan, where
the Taliban is once more making its presence very clear, highlights the
challenges facing the US military throughout the country. Entitled
'Swift and bloody: the Taliban's revenge,' the May 9 article starts
with the claim that "rebels have returned." Throughout, the report was
dotted with similar assertions. "Marjah was supposed to be safe...All
that progress is threatened by the Taliban 'surge'...There were always
fears that they would re-emerge .. The strength of the Taliban's
presence is gradually becoming clearer...The Taliban are growing bolder..."

term 'surge' was once associated with General David Petraeus's strategy
predicated on the deployment of 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan. That
it is now being attributed to the Taliban's own strategy is ironic, to
say the least. Once meant to be a 'success story, now convincing the
world that things are working out in Afghanistan might not be so easy
after all. "Worries are growing in the Pentagon that if thousands of
marines and Afghan security forces cannot entirely defeat the Taliban
in Marjah, a town of only 50,000, securing the far larger prize of
Kandahar may be an even greater struggle than has been foreseen," wrote

challenge ahead, although bolstered with all the right (albeit
predictable) language is likely to be bloody, just like the rest of
this sad Afghanistan episode, which actually began much earlier than

US and Karazi (as a supposed representative of the 'Afghani people')
must come across as united in the face of the extremist minority.
Karazi's visit to the US was the political padding prior to the likely
military storm. It was meant to assure the public that the chaos which
will follow is in fact part of a counterinsurgency effort;
well-planned, calculated, executed and, as always, passionately

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