Starting up their “Spring offensive,” the Taliban made good on a promise to massacre more U.S. troops, killing eight more U.S. soldiers today, just as Afghan President Hamid Karzai talked openly about receiving ongoing payments from the CIA. Committed to the end of 2014, President Barack Obama needs to tweak his policy before another 600 or so U.S. soldiers go to their graves before the eventual pull out. Started Oct. 7. 2001, former President George W. Bush began Operation Enduring Freedom, less than four short weeks after Sept. 11. It took nearly 10-long years to finally bring justice to Osama bin Laden May 1, 2011, despite the fact that Bin Laden and his Taliban protector the one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar escaped Afghanistan over Khyber Pass Dec. 14, 2001. Mired in Afghanistan ever since, the U.S. objective has been to stabilize the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
While the U.S. has spent nearly a $1 trillion in Afghanistan, not including CIA cash payments to the Karzai government, there’s no end in sight of U.S. financial commitments to assure future security. Karzai’s security forces have been so infiltrated with Taliban and other insurgents that the U.S. military stopped giving the Karzai government information about troop movements. Karzai often complains of collateral damage to Afghan civilians, siding with Taliban criticism of U.S. occupation. Playing both sides against the middle, Karzai feels free to criticize U.S. military involvement while, at the same time, holding his cup-in-hand. Knowing risks to U.S. troops, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and U.S. Afghanistan Commander Gen. Joseph Dunford must urgently revise U.S. strategy to prevent the some 20-25 military deaths, bringing the nearly 12-year total to 2,212.
Since Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009 and surged U.S. forces by 30,000 troops, U.S. death rates have tripled. Between 2001 and 2009, 619 U.S. soldiers lost their lives battling the Taliban during the first eight years. In the next 5 years since the troop surge began in 2009, 1593 U.S. soldiers have perished. While U.S. death rates don’t compare to the Soviet-Afghan War [1979-1989], where some 14,493 Soviet troops lost their lives averaging about 121 a month, U.S. death rates are at unacceptable levels. More U.S. troops are getting massacred in Afghanistan all the time. Pentagon officials must do what they did in Iraq to halt U.S. death rates: Sequester U.S. troops away from dangerous Improvised Explosive Devices. Karzai’s more worried about losing the CIA’s cash payments than deaths or injuries to U.S. forces. Karzai can’t account for the tens-of-millions of U.S. dollars delivered to his government.
Since Bush left office Jan. 20, 2009, there’s a growing consensus that Afghanistan holds no significant role in U.S. national security. While the Taliban’s committed to inflicting maximum damage to the U.S. or its allies, it’s difficult to justify the continue loss of U.S. lives or tax dollars in Afghanistan. Since coming to power Dec. 22, 2001, Karzai cashed-in on giving the U.S. access to battle the Taliban and eventually get Osama bin Laden. Bush never admitted that when Bin Laden and Omar escaped to Pakistan in December of 2001, the U.S. no longer had a vested national security interest in Afghanistan. Collecting CIA cash payments for over 10 years, Karzai can’t really account for the missing cash delivered in shrink-wrapped plastic, bags or suitcases. U.S. and Afghan officials have been negotiating how many troops will remain after the formal troop withdrawal in 2014.
Karzai hopes to collect billions in rent payments from U.S. bases in Afghanistan. With all the sacrifices made by U.S. troops and taxpayers, you’d think that Karzai would pay the U.S. for its security arrangement. Without U.S. protection, Karzai’s likely to follow the late Northern Alliance Leader Ahmad Massoud Shah, who was assassinated by a Taliban suicide bomber Sept. 9, 2001. Taliban officials know that without Karzai there would be no CIA cash payments or rent payments for U.S. Army and Air Force bases. Calling the CIA cash distributions “government-to-government” payments, Karzai insists he can account for every penny given to his regime. “We have spent it in different areas (and) solved lots of problems,” said Karzai. “All the money which we have spent, receipts have been sent back to the intelligence service of the United State monthly,” insisting the money was well-spent.
Losing more U.S. troops everyday, Obama needs to meet with Dempsey and Dunford to figure out what can be done to reduce U.S. casualty rates. With over a year-and-a-half left, U.S. troops are too vulnerable to the Taliban’s Spring Offensive. White House and Pentagon officials must drive a harder bargain for the costs of continuing U.S. security arrangements following any troop withdrawal. Letting the CIA give Karazi more cash and overpaying on rent for U.S. bases that cost taxpayers billions is a bad deal for the U.S. government. Karzai’s had almost 12 years to prepare for an eventual U.S. and NATO troop withdrawal. If he can’t provide for his own security by now, things aren’t likely to change by 2014. “Because of all these rumors, in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it. We want to continue this sort of assistance.” said Karzzi exposing what he really wants from the U.S.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.