Last week, the US, angered by the refusal of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a "security agreement" allowing them to continue to murder his citizens, played what it thought was its ultimate card: threatening to take their murderous thugs and go home. Karzai's response? Bring it on. In an interview with the Washington Post today, he's quite clear:
To Karzai, the war was not waged with his country’s interests in mind.
“Afghans died in a war that’s not ours,’ he said in the interview, his first in two years with a U.S. newspaper.
In Karzai’s mind, al-Qaeda is “more a myth than a reality” and the majority of the United States’ prisoners here were innocent. He’s certain that the war was “for the U.S. security and for the Western interest.”
Such statements elicit scorn and shock from U.S. officials, who point out that Americans have sacrificed mightily for Afghanistan — losing more than 2,000 lives and spending more than $600 billion in the effort to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban and rebuild the country.
And they want to keep sacrificing out of the goodness of their hearts. Yeah, right. They wouldn't be there, and trying so hard to stay there, if it wasn't in the US's interests. As for Afghanistan's interests, I think that's a question for actual Afghans, not Americans.
As for the occupation agreement (because that is what it is), the US apparently hopes to sign it with whoever wins the upcoming elections. I hope not. Whatever you think about its origins, the primary cause of the war in Afghanistan now is the occupation. Removing the occupiers (and their airstrikes and night raids and random racist abuse which feed the cycle of vengeance) will make peace possible. We probably won't like the look of that peace, any more than we like the look of the current government - but progress has to come from Afghans. It cannot be imposed from without by foreign guns.
Meanwhile, the fact that Karzai is even giving this interview is a sign that there's been some progress in American foreign policy. 50 years ago, they would have just had him murdered in a CIA-backed coup...