Posted by Bob Lord
Why is Hamid Karzai lashing out at Americans? Because he’s insulted over the Koran burnings? Because he’s angry at the loss of Afghani lives? Hardly. We’re talking about one of the most corrupt rulers ever to grace the planet. He could care less about such things. So, why is he lashing out? Because he has to.
Most occupations reach a tipping point when the occupied population stops tolerating the occupation. That’s certainly true when the occupation begins as a hostile occupation. But it’s even true when the occupier is at first welcomed, as the American forces who helped depose the Taliban presumably were. At some point, continued occupation becomes intolerable.
To say we’ve reached the tipping point in Afghanistan would be to say beer consumption today will be above average. The Afghan people can’t tolerate our presence anymore. They will rise up more and more forcefully to end the occupation. They will seize on any excuse to act, with increasing violence, against their occupiers. And we will continue to give them all the excuses they need, and then some. Any military operation will have unintended incidents, and, as is evident from events over the last 10 years, this one is no exception. In fact, this operation is more of a cluster fuck than most. How could it not be? This is Afghanistan, where empires die.
Karzai’s corrupt, but he’s not stupid. He knows that if he has any chance of hanging onto power, he must be anti-American at this point. The population is becoming more and more anti-American. Karzai knows that if he doesn’t show that he feels their pain (or, more accurately, act like he feels their pain), they’ll turn to the Taliban. And that will end life for him as he knows it, which is an extraordinarily good life by Afghani standards.
And there absolutely, positively is no way to reverse this process, anymore than Assad can reverse the uprising in Syria. That’s what tipping points are all about. Once you’ve reached one, there’s no turning back. We’ve worn out our welcome, and it’s time to leave. In fact, it was time to leave years ago.
We’re not going to salvage anything good at this point. All we can hope for is a minimum of ugliness going forward. Unfortunately, there could be trade off between minimizing the ugliness and saving face. In the year of a Presidential election, saving face could be paramount, so that doesn’t bode well. But Obama has been a master at sailing between Scylla and Charybdis, so maybe he can accomplish both objectives.
Oh well. Another casualty of Bush-Cheney hubris. Had we not diverted our attention to Iraq in 2003, the outcome in Afghanistan may have been vastly different. But the ADD American public won’t remember that. This one will go down as Obama’s failure.