Afghanistan and Pakistan: Time to Go
by Ed Koch
I learned from reading page 9 of the New York Times of July 8th that “The United States declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally on Saturday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton personally delivering the news of Afghanistan’s entry into a club that includes Israel, Japan, Pakistan and other close Asian and Middle Eastern allies.”
The Times also noted the U.S. “pledged $16 billion for civilian needs in Afghanistan, but for the first time insisted that the Afghanistan government resist corruption in order to receive all the money.”
Over the 12 years of our being in Afghanistan, we have read reports alleging corruption of the Afghan government officials, including President Hamid Karzai and his family. We read that his brother, now dead, was a major drug trafficker. We have been spending tens of billions annually in Afghanistan, not only on the military, but on rebuilding that country. The monies invested have not produced the intended upgrading of Afghanistan’s infrastructure, but rather, the upgrading of the personal fortunes of members of the Afghan government and warlords who actually control parts of the country. Now we know their ability to continue to eat at the trough filled daily with American tax dollars and support from other nations will go on undiminished. What kind of ally have we purchased with our tax dollars? We are now spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan.
We are enriching a host of corrupt Afghans, including President Karzai who, according to the Times, “has in the past at one point call[ed] Americans ‘demons.'” Worse than that, he threatened on one occasion to join the Taliban against the U.S. Now reports the Times, “Mrs. Clinton reiterated on Saturday that Washington did envision keeping American troops in Afghanistan, where they would provide the kind of air power and surveillance capabilities needed to give Afghan forces an edge over the Taliban.”
Over the last 12 years, 2,038 American service members have been killed in Afghanistan and 15,322 have been wounded. What is most shocking is that there is now a rise in the killing of American soldiers and soldiers of our allies in Afghanistan, e.g. Britain, Germany, et. al. Last week, three British soldiers were killed by a member of the Afghanistan security forces. Since 2007, we have lost 57 soldiers at the hands of Afghan National Security Forces, which our soldiers were training. This undoubtedly will go on if we stay there. The killing of NATO soldiers by Afghan security forces is now called “green on blue.” Another tragedy took place this past weekend when six American soldiers were killed by the Taliban using IEDs. Let me sum it up by saying, it is madness not to get out of Afghanistan totally and as soon as possible, rather than stay with a large force until the end of 2014 and a smaller force thereafter.
We went into Afghanistan originally because the Taliban, then the government of Afghanistan, had given shelter to al-Qaeda and bin Laden, in which country was hatched the monstrous plan to blow up the World Trade Center towers in New York City on 9/11/2001. Al-Qaeda now functions in at least 62 countries while, according to C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta, it has no more than 50 operatives in Afghanistan. Bin Laden found refuge in Pakistan, a far more powerful and sophisticated country with the nuclear bomb. When he was killed by American Navy Seals, he was living in a house in the neighborhood of one of Pakistan’s largest army base towns. The Pakistan government denounced the successful attack by the Seals and the Pakistani people mourned bin Laden’s death. The Pakistan government later in a dispute recently ended by a letter of apology from the American government closed its roads to American re-supply traffic to Afghanistan. The American government’s position was that Pakistan troops had first fired on American soldiers before the Americans returned fire, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Undoubtedly, the fog of war was a cause of the battle between the two allies, Pakistan and the U.S. Apologizing for the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers was appropriate. Closing Pakistan’s roads to U.S. military supply vehicles was not, and it cost the U.S. $1 billion for the use of alternate roads in other countries.
Is Pakistan truly an ally? It has ally status. On July 3rd, I was watching PBS Channel 13 and one segment was named “Pakistan: Ally, Adversary or Conditional Partner?” The two guests discussing the issue were Vali Nasr, a former U.S. State Department official, and General Jack Keane, retired Army General. I was most impressed with the comments of General Keane who summed up his position saying: “Well, I think our relationship has certainly changed from an allied relationship with pretty good cooperation to one that is more of a partnership that’s based more on conditions. And, listen, I couldn’t disagree more with Vali on this in terms of our relationship. You know, coddling the pacts that we have done now for 10 years has clearly protracted this war in Afghanistan. We have got two sanctuaries, Afghan sanctuaries in Pakistan that Pakistan military leaders provide information on NATO and U.S. operations inside Afghanistan. They provide training, and they provide resources. I mean, that’s outrageous. And if that isn’t enough, there are two fertilizer factories ostensibly which actually produce ammonium nitrate, which is the basic ingredient in 85 percent of all of the IEDs that maim and kill our troops. And, finally, there are bomb factories that we know where they are, have pictures of them in Balochistan and also in Sharman, Pakistan, which are used to produce those IEDs as a final product. This is why this relationship has frayed and strained and has deteriorated, because even though they do not want to destabilize Pakistan, de facto, they have protracted this war, you know, for all of these years because those sanctuaries provide that kind of support for the Taliban that are fighting inside Afghanistan.”
That Afghanistan and Pakistan are now officially our allies is ridiculous. We are renting them at a cost of billions and they don’t identify with our aims and values. They are both a part of the Islamist terrorist network of nations devoted to our ultimate destruction and the destruction of Western civilization. Pakistan helps the Taliban in Afghanistan while Karzai negotiates with the Taliban. Were we to leave, the Taliban would not be a major factor in endangering the security of the U.S. It would re-impose Sharia and all that means in terms of oppression of women and casting Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages.
If we think we can count on countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to protect our back, we are headed down the wrong road. We should bring our military home from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Staying there only ensures more American military deaths and casualties with no real or permanent benefits for the U.S. Enough already. Let’s get out now.