Afghanistan – Zero Option?

by H. Thomas Hayden on January 14, 2013

Strange how Afghan President Humid Karzai had not much good to say about the U.S. activities in Afghanistan a few weeks ago but when he came to Washington, D.C., had nothing but praise for all.

Partly because of the nasty things Karzai has said and his corrupt regime over the last year, public support for the war effort has dropped as low as 23 percent.

Maybe Karzai thought that through pressure on the issue of legal immunity, he could gain concessions, but there is no sign that any concessions will be given to Afghan.

Clearly, Obama has abandoned one piece after another of the strategy he once envisioned so that today we have no strategy for an end game – at least nothing public. The White House has long since stopped speaking of political or economic reform as a crucial piece of their exit strategy.

Obama said Afghan forces would take the lead in securing the country this spring, several months ahead of what had been agreed at a NATO summit last year. There is now talk of a zero option for troops to remain behind after 2014.

The stated Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy has been found wanting. The massive program of development assistance and government reform which accompanied the military surge has done little either to reduce the corruption and incompetence of the Afghan state or to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan public.

Exit with no strategy is a receipt for a resurgent radical Islamic regime.

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