Afghans Killed: Karzai Blasts US
is unacceptable. It cannot be tolerated,"
By Robert Dreyfuss
June 07, 2012 "Information
-- Leon Panetta, the over-his-head U.S. secretary of defense, is
in Afghanistan today after a day on which the greatest number of
civilians were killed so far in 2012. But Hamid Karzai, the
Afghan president, isn't there. He's in Beijing, meeting with the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an all-Asian bloc led by
China and Russia. The SCO, not surprisingly, is expressing a
greater interest in building ties with Afghanistan as the U.S.
begins in long, drawn-out drawdown to 2014. And Panetta, it
seems is trying to interest India, a rival to China, is taking a
greater interest in Afghanistan too. It’s the Afghan Endgame.
Karzai is charging that a NATO airstrike killed 18 Afghan
civilians, including woman and children, as part of a U.S.-led
ground operation in Logar province.
Reports AP: “Villagers displayed 18 bodies at the provincial
capital on Wednesday, including five women, seven children and
six men.” Added AP:
is unacceptable. It cannot be tolerated," President Hamid
Karzai said in a statement condemning the strike in Logar.
He criticized NATO for not being able to provide an
explanation for the vans piled with bodies of women and
children that villagers displayed to reporters.
especially sad about the slaughter in Logar is that it occurred
immediately following a suicide bomb attack blamed on the
Taliban in which three suicide bombers killed 22 innocent
civilians at a marketplace in Kandahar. Taken together, the two
incidents represent the worst day of violence in Afghanistan so
far this year, providing further evidence – if any was needed –
that that idea that the United States is making things better in
that war-battered nation is a sick joke.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the strike in the strongest
terms and decided the episode was serious enough to cut
short his trip to China where he was participating in the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit meeting. “NATO
cannot justify any airstrike which causes harms to the lives
and property of civilians,” Mr. Karzai said in a statement
released by his office.
such airstrikes that result in civilian casualties, the Logar
attack involved units of U.S. Special Operations Forces on the
Panetta, whose trip to Afghanistan wasn’t previously announced,
busily complaining about nearby Pakistan’s role in providing
support to the Taliban and its allies. But China, Pakistan’s
ally, appears ready to step up its involvement in Afghanistan,
and the SCO meeting in Beijing invited Karzai to attend as an
official observer. The members of the SCO, which has also asked
Iran to participate as an observer, include China, Russia, and
four Central Asian states, all of which have an intense interest
in Afghanistan. As AP
Central Asian states meeting in Beijing this week say they want
a role in stabilizing Afghanistan after most U.S. combat troops
leave at the end of 2014, with China's economic juggernaut
leading the charge. … Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told
reporters Wednesday that the development of Afghanistan was
"closely linked to security and stability" in the region, and
that Afghanistan becoming an observer member of the SCO will
speed up security and economic cooperation.
The United States ought to welcome the SCO role in Afghanistan.
Indeed, China and Russia will be reluctant to get too involved
too fast in Afghanistan until the civil war begins to resolve
itself, but at the very least China and work with Pakistan to
facilitate Taliban participation in peace talks. Neither China
nor Russia, who both have problems of their own with radical
Muslims, much like the Taliban itself. But both countries want
political stability in South Asia, and both countries have a
stake in oil and natural gas reserves and pipelines that
crisscross Asia and could transit a peaceful Afghanistan.
Of course, the Obama administration seems obsessed with its
“pivot to Asia” and enhancing its military presence in the
western Pacific and the Indian oceans. So it’s not surprising
that Panetta, who stopped in India, s encouraging New Delhi to
take a greater role in Afghanistan. Some hawks in the United
States believe that India, which is militantly opposed to
Taliban-style Islamism, ought to get involved in supporting and
training Afghan security forces – something that would provoke
the wrath of Pakistan. And they see India as a pro-American
counterweight to China. Worryingly, the Washington Post
Afghanistan, the United States until recently has encouraged
limited Indian engagement, consisting largely of economic
development, for fear of spooking India’s longtime rival
Pakistan. But with the U.S.-Pakistan relationship at an
all-time low, the United States appears to be pushing for
deeper Indian engagement that includes training Afghan
security forces on a larger scale.
Uh oh. As
the Post notes, India isn’t interested in any
confrontation with China, certainly not as a U.S. ally. While
India has its own problems with China, including border
disputes, the Indians are smart enough not to allow themselves
to be used by the United States in a geopolitical game.
But the real point is this: if the Obama administration truly
wants to exit Afghanistan and leave behind something moderately
stable, it needs an all-out effort to bring India, Pakistan,
China, Russia and Iran into a concerted effort to stabilize that
country and to convince its warring factions to lay down their
arms (including the Taliban). So far, I just don’t see any
evidence that Obama has a global game plan to bring all these
players to the table.
Meanwhile, the civilians die en masse.
Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative
journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and
national security. He is the author of
Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash
Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to
Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.
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