Strategic Incoherence Watch

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by Joshua Foust on 9/13/2009 · 3 comments

From the Times:

Lieutenant-General Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador, last week warned Karzai against declaring victory prematurely. But Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to the region, has ruled out a rerun…

It appears some of Holbrooke’s staff were initially involved in leaking the reports of election fraud, seeing it as a chance to clip Karzai’s wings. They believed that an unconvincing victory would give the West leverage to persuade the president not to dismiss reformist ministers and replace them with warlords with whom he had made electoral deals.

However, as the political tensions threaten to spiral out of control, Washington is now trying to play down the problem.

“It is an achievement elections went ahead at all,” said one US official last week.

Asked what legitimacy a future Karzai government would have, the official said: “We’re not there to support the Afghan government. We’re there to disrupt, dismantle and demolish Al-Qaeda.”

Words fail. So Holbrooke decided to meddle in the election before all the facts were in, and now is ruling out a redo as if it’s his pet government to run. Then a U.S. official says we don’t care on jot about the Afghan government, only killing al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are also saying al Qaeda is finished (Lawrence Wright, naturally, disagrees), President Obama is saying we need to “renew” our fight against al Qaeda (I thought they were almost finished?), and al Qaeda supposedly is building a huge new base in Pakistan.

And on the “supporting the government” front, let’s not forget Carl Levin’s speech calling for more Security Force Assistance… which is supporting the Afghan government. In fact, if that anonymous official was speaking anything close to the truth on this, then every single person in the military and Thinktankistan should drop this counterinsurgency nonsense immediately: our own government isn’t playing.

Argh. I hope that guy just got quoted out of context.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 3 comments }

dennis September 13, 2009 at 10:25 pm

the guy in the middle thinking,( when will they open the buffet)

Dafydd September 14, 2009 at 9:07 am

And you still theink NATO can win in Afghanistan?

Just how bad would it have to be for you to think withdrawal the better option?

Bernard Finel September 14, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Yes, that story was painful to read.

Richard “we’ll know it when we see it” Holbrooke may not be the right man for the job, eh?

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