Afghan President Hamid Karzai is a “bad puppet,” to use a term coined by American author Francis Fitzgerald. He is refusing to obey the dictates of his Western allies who want him to immediately sign the BSA (Bilateral Security Agreement) with the United States. That places him in the same position as (bad puppet) South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, who was murdered in a CIA-backed coup on November 2, 1963. To-date, Western intelligence agencies had considered President Karzai to be more of an asset than a liability. As the 2014 Afghan Presidential election approaches, President Karzai’s favorables are waning; consequently his continued viability is less important to the West. When the tipping point is reached (it may have already been exceeded), President Karzai’s life expectancy will drop and he risks being sacrificed for the sake of democracy and freedom.
An ominous development is the November 30, 2013 New York Times article by Rod Nordland. The article goes out of its way to paint a picture of an Afghan President who is opposing the will of the Afghan people and his own Cabinet due to his delay in signing the BSA. Mr. Nordland also wrote that the Afghan people are opposed to President Karzai’s criticism of a U.S. drone strike last week that killed an Afghan child and wounded two women in Helmond Province, while President Karzai was silent over a suicide bomber last Friday who attacked an American patrol in Kandahar, wounding two Americans but also killing an Afghan child. Mr. Nordland seemed to equate the two attacks. In one, an unknown American controller, potentially sitting in an office at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, caused the civilian casualties and will never face justice or even be publicly identified. The parents of that child should have the right to face their child’s killer and hear from him or her why it occurred (even if the controller is never punished). It is outrageous that an Afghan child can be killed by remote control 8,000 miles away and the killer gets to go our for a beer after and is protected from any accountability. While mistakes are inevitable in warfare, there is no excuse for not acting honorably in the aftermath. In the case of the child in Kandahar who was killed, his killer paid with his life for his crime. The two incidents are not the same, but the hostility of The Times toward President Karzai may help to give the “green light” to his replacement with extreme prejudice.
The BSA agreement has fundamental flaws in that it is a sale of sovereignty. In return for money and troops, the Government of Afghanistan agrees not to enforce its laws and it acknowledges that it cannot protect its own people from abuses by either side in the conflict. It teaches Afghan children the “golden rule,” which is that those with the gold make the rules. Despite NATO claims that it punishes its soldiers, the reality is that such occurs in perhaps 1% of the cases due to the NATO rules of engagement which permit killings which would be crimes under U.S. and European criminal codes, and under the Rules of War.
The West does not learn from its mistakes. The murder of President Diem was the beginning of a downward spiral of coups and counter-coups which crippled the South Vietnamese Government and led to its eventual defeat. Democracy and freedom cannot be enhanced through the arrest and/or murder of democratically elected officials. The U.S.-backed coup in Egypt is another good example of a morally bankrupt scheme. The West created elaborate and contorted rationales for why the coup against President Morsi was good for democracy. Interestingly, those same bizarre rationales would justify coups in the U.S. and many European countries which have similarly unpopular governments.
The looming U.S. and NATO failure in Afghanistan can be traced to poor planning, a half-hearted effort, a failure to understand counter-insurgency concepts, a lack of accountability in the seemingly endless USAID scandals, support for warlords, prisoner abuses and the killing of too many civilians. NATO should think twice about installing a new Afghan President. It is not competent enough to create a viable Afghan Government, and it cannot spin such an abhorrent act as morally acceptable.