Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hang On To Your Hat

Beside the hot air Barack Obama has been blowing at him, there's another hot wind blowing in the Middle East. Afghanistan's questionably elected president Hamid Karzai just paid a visit to his counterpart in Washington, DC. The two agreed that they must dismantle the Afghan insurgency, but the word "Taliban" hardly arose. After all, Karzai recently told Obama he might join the Taliban if Obama didn't lay off his criticism.

During the DC confab, the two leaders spoke a great deal about how they should handle the issue of the unnamed insurgents in the border regions with Pakistan. But during those discussions, the 500 pound gorilla in the room went unnoticed--Iran. It would appear from statements made by Karzai subsequent to the meetings with Obama that Iran was far too insignificant a problem for the two great ones to bother with.

So at a White House appearance, Karzai casually mentioned how important friendly relations with Iran are to his country. This occurred during a joint press conference, while Obama looked on with his usual stone face. The buddy-buddy routine about Iran didn't seem to phase the messiah at all. It's almost as if he fully expected it. Karzai apparently found nothing inconsistent about saying that though "Afghanistan is a partner and a friend of the United States--the U.S. is our greatest contributor to stability," still "Afghanistan's position here is clear to our brothers and counterparts in Iran." Brothers? Counterparts?

In case we didn't understand the first time. Karzai repeated that Afghanistan wants to be friends with both Iran and the United States (in that order). "Afghanistan is engaged in a strong, steady, long-term relationship with America. We also spoke to our American counterparts that Iran is our neighbor and brother. They have contributed to the Afghan reconstruction. We hope to remain friendly with both." So you get it, right? Iran has been declared a terrorist state, and by its own declarations will see to the destruction of both Israel and America. Nice friends, Hamid. Since they're a neighbor, will you wander across the border and ask "Hi, neighbor, may I borrow a nuke or two?"

Obama's mouthpiece, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said on Tuesday that "We've given [Iran], I think, plenty of opportunity with which to join the international community, but being part of the international community means living up to the obligations and the treaties that you sign that are part of the international community. You can't be part of the international community and then not live up to your responsibilities as it relates to nuclear activities." Obama showed no signs of discomfort at Karzai announcing his friendship with a nation that lies about its nuclear activities.

Obama's own State Department says: "Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qaeda members it has detained, and has refused to publicly identify those senior members in custody. Iran has repeatedly resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its al-Qaeda detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for trial. Iran also continued to fail to control the activities of some al-Qaeda members who fled to Iran following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan." Piffle. Details. Why should this have any impact on Obama's warm feelings toward Karzai and his friends in Iran?

This is all part of a pattern of Obama behavior. He harshly criticized Karzai long-distance over the obviously crooked elections in Afghanistan that retained Karzai as president. But when Karzai came into town, robe and hat and all, Obama is suddenly either dumbstruck or cowed. As with all the Middle East dictators, potentates and simple crooks who come to the White House, Obama becomes obsequious. For some reason unknown to me, the only White House guest whom Obama has outright insulted, humiliated and ignored, was ally Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Maybe Netanyahu just has the wrong friends and neighbors. It makes me wonder when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be invited to enjoy the comforts of the Lincoln Bedroom.

On a somewhat related matter, today is Armed Forces Day. Instituted to remember and honor our men and women who have fallen in service to their nation, the flag should be raised briskly to the top of the staff, then lowered respectfully to half-staff until evening.

14 comments:

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--We're a distance in time from the battles to secure Afghanistan, but what comes after is what worries me. When America, thousands of miles across the ocean, withdraws its troops, who will Karzai or his successors cozy up to?

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: An excellent question. Karzai's outreach to Iran doesn't inspire any confidence in me. The Taliban's past oppressive activities fit nicely into Iran's similar activities. Beyond "victory" in Afghanistan, the question then becomes "how do we keep Afghanistan from becoming a mere satellite of Iran?"

AndrewPrice said...

I've been following the Afghan situation closely and it's only getting worse. The government is corrupt, ethnic and ineffective.

The enemy is much more popular than our government wants to believe -- indeed, recent polls conducted by our military horrified them to discover that the Afghans prefer Taliban rule. And now they are finding what anyone with a brain should have known -- they can take over whole areas (indeed, the Taliban just fades away as the Americans approach) but they can't win over the people.

As for Iran, I'm not worried about Iran. Afghanistan is more likely to become a satellite for Pakistan.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Was it Charlie Wilson who helped Afganistan during the Soviet/Russian occupation?

If that is so, then subsequent help to them has been dismal during the Clinton Admin, Spotty during the Bush Admin and horrific during the Obama Regime.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: If the Taliban continue to have a strong influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan is the more likely ally. And that's another whole kettle of fish. Although Pakistan is by far the more powerful country in an Afghan/Pak coalition, the presence of a strong pro-Taliban state on its borders will destabilize Pakistan even more. The militant training camps in the border regions could just as easily be turned against a pro-West Pakistan as against us.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, What worries me about Pakistan is their nuclear program. They've had a very hard time controlling it -- in fact the "father" of the Pakistan bomb was the guy who helped North Korea get theirs.

With the cozy relationship between the Pakistani secret police and the Taliban, and especially if they get a base of operations in Afghanistan, then I would be very concerned that nuclear material or weapons would find their way into the hands of Al Queda.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: Yep. The not-so-secret CIA activities in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation were called "Charlie Wilson's War" by insiders. Putting Agfhans together for any purpose, good, bad or indifferent is like herding cats. They have a primitive, clan-based society that simply doesn't seem capable of joining the modern world. They are prefidious allies and dangerous enemies. Whoever "befriends" them next is in for a whale of a headache.

Joel Farnham said...

If this is a clan nation, compare the various clans, pick the one who likes us the most. Give them arms and a sniper or two and see what develops. This is the essence of Charlie's War. -- It worked until Clinton failed them completely running up to 9/11.

Bush just sent in troops and failed to follow up on the destruction of the Taliban.

Obama has done every thing in his power to destroy what gains Bush achieved, until now.

Wonder of it is, Karzi is still willing to work with Obama. Maybe he has problems that he cannot control.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: That's a very genuine fear. So far, we have been very lucky that nuclear materials have not been snuck out of Pakistan in large quantities, but with the Pakistani government so unstable today, we have much to worry about. Al-Qaeda's presence in the area only makes things worse.

Nevertheless, the hands-across-the-border to Iran is very troublesome, particularly if the devious Karzai is planning on playing Iran and Pakistan off against each other to gain advantage for his own primitives. It wouldn't be the first time that some wannabe dictator tried to play power-broker, only to get eaten by one or both of the big boys he was gaming.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: The problem with Karzai and Obama working together is it's the blind leading the blind. Frankly, I don't think Obama has done any worse than his predecessors in attempting to get a handle on how to conduct a war in Afghanistan. As problematic as the war is, the solution and ultimate result are even more problematic.

The Northern Alliance was the one and only example of some of the clans actually working together for the common good. When their leaders were murdered shortly before 9-11, it was the end of any coordinated effort at nation-building. Once again, it was every clan for itself. Sadly, the Taliban seem to represent the only unifying idea in Afghanistan.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I am not totally buying that the Taliban is the unifying concept. I think, even though Karzai is by our nation's standards less than ideal, he is trying his best to unify his country.

It was easier with the Soviets. It was easier against the Taliban.

Now with a feckless American President, Karzai is resorting to threatening with turning it back over to Taliban to get a sit-down with Obama. Obama cannot afford another fully successful attack on American soil. Obama must appear to be doing SOMETHING about these terrorists. Casually mentioning Iran keeps Obama attention.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: Karzai's threat to "join" the Taliban was a political ploy. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't make common cause with them. They are dedicated, and they have the only philosophy that covers the entire Afghan nation. Of course, many oppose them (particularly women), but no other idea is as common to all Afghans as the Taliban version of Islam. Karzai knows that the Americans will be leaving, and that there will be a power vacuum. If the Taliban can help him fill that vacuum, he won't hesitate.

Remember that the real Communist Party in the Soviet Union never comprised much more than 10% of the population, but it was a unifying concept that spread from border to border, and it had the will to eliminate all opposition ruthlessly. That's the same situation with the Taliban in Afghanistan. And I suspect the pro-Taliban percentage of the population is much higher than the percentage of doctrinaire communists in Russia during the revolution.

Writer X said...

I seem to recall then candidate for President, Barack Obama, promising to end both wars, bring the troops home, close Gitmo, and lead the entire world in both choruses of Kumbaya--all in his first month of office. Then it got pushed up to July--last July. I never thought I'd say this but I actually miss Code Pink.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I forgot to notice. Did the seas stop rising? Not that it matters since he can walk on water.

And if you threatened me with a gun, I'd never miss Code Pink. LOL

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