U.S. failures in Kabul
Published Feb 22, 2009 2:34 PM
U.S. policy towards Afghanistan is undergoing a major re-evaluation, since its
major local ally and its occupation forces are both showing glaring
The U.S. media are using direct criticism to undercut Afghan President Hamed
Karzai, who used to have Washington’s unwavering support. In a Feb. 15
report on MSNBC, reporter Richard Engel now calls Karzai “corrupt, tied
to the opium trade and unable to stop the Taliban.”
U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, met with
Karzai only at the end of his four-day visit, which the local Afghan press
interpreted as a significant slight. A comment on Tolo TV, an independent Kabul
station, points out, “At a time when President Hamed Karzai has adopted a
harsher tone than before in his criticism of civilian casualties in foreign
military operations, officials of the Obama administration are describing the
Afghan administration as the weakest government.” (BBC Monitoring
Service, Feb. 14)
Holbrooke avoided endorsing Karzai in the Afghan national elections scheduled
for this coming summer.
To maintain support among Afghans, Karzai criticized U.S. military tactics when
the Pentagon’s attacks devastated wedding parties and recklessly killed
large numbers of children and other civilians.
Bold attacks by the resistance against the Justice Department, the offices in
charge of prisons and the Education Ministry, carried out Feb. 12 on the eve of
Holbrooke’s visit, exposed the weakness of the Karzai regime. The Taliban
said these attacks were in retaliation for the “mistreatment and torture
of Taliban prisoners,” according to the Feb. 12 New York Times.
Five resistance fighters killed the two guards at the Justice Ministry and then
seized three of its four floors in coordination with the attacks on the offices
running the prisons and the Education Ministry. At the prison offices, one of
the attackers exploded a suicide belt and the others used this distraction to
get into the building.
A video clip on NBC news showed that the building suffered major explosive
damage, while the resistance fighters roamed the halls, killing 20 and wounding
more than 50 government personnel. These buildings are all in downtown Kabul,
one within a few blocks of Karzai’s presidential palace.
During the press conference the army held to announce it had cleared the
Justice building, it revealed that one of the resistance fighters was still
Since there have been other armed attacks in Kabul, some questions must be
going through the minds of the U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan: Why
were there only two guards at the Justice Ministry? How could the Taliban
transport such a major amount of weapons and explosives into Kabul without
being reported? Why didn’t the Afghan rapid response force respond more
Faced with these weaknesses, Washington is reportedly preparing a plan to send
30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and request more allied troops.
President Barack Obama will present this plan to NATO at a meeting during
NATO’s 60th anniversary commemoration this April 2-5 in Strasbourg,
European anti-war organizations plan protests at the NATO celebration,
including opposition to the sending of more NATO troops to Afghanistan.
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