What kind of friend has to be forced by threats to meet your demands?
Hamid Karzai is supposedly the democratically-elected leader of Afghanistan. That is a laughable fiction, but it is one the U.S. supports. Obama wants Karzai to sign a “bilateral security agreement.” The administration even claimed that the agreement had been reached by mutual cooperation. Apparently Karzai disagreed because he has refused to sign the BSA. So the US decided that a threat would get him to cooperate.
The Obama Administration miscalculated badly with the December 31 ultimatum on Afghanistan. They threatened to withdraw outright from the country if President Hamid Karzai didn’t sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to keep US troops in the nation “through 2024 and beyond.”
The assumption that Karzai would be scared into signing off has proven untrue, and there’s just a week left before the “deadline” passes, so now administration officials are playing it off like the deadline was never real to begin with.
Though they say leaving is still “possible,” they insist they’re willing to wait for the deal now. Others conceded that they haven’t considered setting a new deadline and one added “I think it’s pretty obvious why.”
The Afghans never took the threat seriously, and indeed the Pentagon continued to maintain that not occupying Afghanistan in 2015 was not even seriously considered.
So now they are trying a new tactic.
“My judgment is no troops, no aid, or almost no aid,” James Dobbins, the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told Congress this month. “The political support for the aid comes from the military presence.”
Threatening to withhold aid may seem like it would be an effective tactic with the corrupt government, but that only works when the U.S. government is successful in using that aid to make people happy. Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com doesn’t think the threat really frightens the Afghans that much.
US officials are playing up what a “disaster” the loss of aid would be for Afghanistan, while insisting that the everyday lives of Afghans is dramatically improved because of US largesse.
That claim seems unwarranted, and the Afghans are likely to see it the same way. While many in the Karzai government got rich off the corrupt contractor deals, Afghanistan is still a wreck 12+ years into the occupation, and most of the aid has notoriously gone into building projects Afghans didn’t need or want.
I am no fan of Karzai, but if he gets rid of both U.S. troops in Afghanistan and U.S. aid to Afghanistan, he will be doing Americans a favor. Our own government is not demonstrating that they have any idea what they are doing over there.