A sug­gested an­swer to Karzai’s de­mands

Act­ing up again will bring bombers to Afghanistan, but no re­build­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr.

It ap­pears that Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is act­ing up again. As if Pres­i­dent Obama does not have enough on his hands with Health­care.gov and hot spots spread­ing around the globe, he now has Karzai, the Im­por­tu­nate. The Afghan prima donna is threat­en­ing our pres­i­dent’s role as a war­time pres­i­dent, a role he has not been par­tic­u­larly com­fort­able in, but at least it is pop­u­lar with some Amer­i­cans. Now the play­ing of “Hail to the Chief” may be­come some­what sub­dued, all be­cause of Mr. Karzai’s de­mands. He is re­fus­ing to sign a sta­tus of forces agree­ment al­low­ing us to leave U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan af­ter the war, troops that would be used to pro­tect Afghans.

Last week, Mr. Karzai sum­moned a meet­ing of his coun­try’s el­ders, called a loya jirga, and at­tempted to ham­mer out a long-term agree­ment with the United States and its NATO al­lies for train­ing Afghan troops and pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity af­ter hos­til­i­ties are ended in 2014. Mr. Obama, ably as­sisted by Hil­lary Clin­ton, his sec­re­tary of state at the time, ut­terly botched a sim­i­lar sta­tus of forces agree­ment at the end of our in­volve­ment in Iraq. He does not want a reprise. Un­for­tu­nately, Mr. Karzai is be­ing dis­agree­able in the ex­treme even with his loya jirga.

Though the loya jirga sided with the Amer­i­cans on ar­range­ments for our forces to con­tinue in the coun­try be­yond 2014, Mr. Karzai kept tack­ing on de­mands to the ne­go­ti­a­tions, mak­ing it very un­likely that a treaty can be signed by the end of 2013, which Mr. Obama in­sists on. For in­stance, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman, Ai­mal Faizi, has said that Mr. Karzai will not sign an agree­ment if “another [U.S.] sol­dier steps foot into an Afghan home.” That will be dif­fi­cult be­cause Amer­i­can troops can­not de­sist from “home en­tries,” when that means af­ford­ing sanc­tu­ary to ma­raud­ing bands of Tal­iban when they slip into a lo­cal farmer’s home for refuge.

Then, too, Mr. Karzai has added that he wants Amer­i­can as­sis­tance in ini­ti­at­ing peace talks with the Tal­iban. One way the Amer­i­cans could as­sist would be to re­lease all 17 Afghan cit­i­zens in the Guan­tanamo Bay de­ten­tion center. Fi­nally, Mr. Karzai re­peated his non­nego­tiable de­mand that he will not sign any agree­ment un­til af­ter the Afghan pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in April. Even the loya jirga was stunned. When he fin­ished with his de­mands, the Afghan pres­i­dent turned to Su­san E. Rice. She is Pres­i­dent Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser and had flown to Kabul in a sur­prise ap­pear­ance to em­pha­size how se­ri­ous Mr. Obama is about get­ting an agree­ment by year’s end. Mr. Karzai sim­ply said to Mrs. Rice: “Madame Rice, the ball is in your court.”

What is our pres­i­dent to do with this un­wel­come ball? May I sug­gest a vari­ant of the Tyrrell Doc­trine? First for­mu­lated in my au­thor­i­ta­tive “Af­ter the Hang­over, The Con­ser­va­tives’ Road to Re­cov­ery,” the Tyrrell Doc­trine took is­sue with the well-in­ten­tioned but, in the end, hope­lessly quixotic idea of “na­tion-build­ing.” The United States gov­ern­ment has not a clue as to how we might trans­form, say, Iraq into a democ­racy, much less Afghanistan, which is very con­tent as things stand now with its trusty loya jirga, its tribes and its war­lords. Ar­guably, even I would be sat­is­fied with th­ese in­stru­ments of gov­ern­ment if I lived there.

Ac­cord­ing to my doc­trine, when the United States armed forces are dis­patched to a law­less coun­try where ob­streper­ous ter­ror­ists are en­deav­or­ing to do us mis­chief, it shall be suf­fi­cient to kill the male­fac­tors, wreak a lit­tle chas­ten­ing havoc and de­part. Ro­mans built well-paved roads and aque­ducts, but they also wanted an em­pire. Amer­i­cans only want peace and quiet and an op­por­tu­nity to do busi­ness back in Peoria. We need no em­pire.

The way to adapt the Tyrrell Doc­trine to Mr. Karzai’s de­mands is to bid him a dig­ni­fied adieu, but with a caveat. If in the fu­ture, mem­bers of his cit­i­zenry sally forth to threaten the hair of an Amer­i­can or an Amer­i­can ally, they can ex­pect our Air Force over­head, and very shortly there­after, the sky to rain down on them the ut­most vi­o­lence. We shall dis­patch ter­ror­ists in his midst whether he likes it or not. Then we de­part. There will be no re­build­ing. We have tried that sort of thing, and he in his rude­ness proved it use­less.

Get on with your elec­tion next spring, Mr. Karzai. You are wel­come to your pres­i­dency for how­ever long you can keep it.

ILLUSTRATION BY KEVIN KRE­NECK

Hamid Karzai

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