A NATO deputy commander, Major General Peter Fuller, was terminated today for making “disparaging” remarks regarding the recent proclamation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in the event that the United States entered into a war with its eastern neighbor.
It could be argued, and probably was, that a uniformed officer in a host nation should not make public remarks of this nature relating to that nation’s government and/or its policies, but make no mistake – this is not the same situation that General McChrystal found himself in. There is a big difference between making offensive remarks regarding the sitting commander-in-chief and his administration, and reacting to this level of backhandedness from a nation’s government that absolutely requires our presence to stay in power.*
Hamid Karzai is widely known as a “former” Taliban sympathizer and his brother is as corrupt as they come. The government of Afghanistan owes its very existence to the United States. Whether one agrees with our initial or continued presence in that country, its people nonetheless owe their newfound rights of suffrage to our military and State Department. Karzai himself owes his own life to our Intelligence Community and Special Operations Forces. And whether one agrees with the policy or not, his government receives billions of dollars of humanitarian, police, and military aid and training per year. I just cannot imagine why the general would have taken offense to the president’s statements given these points.
I do not want to digress too far into a discussion regarding foreign aid – this is certainly a worthy topic of discussion in and of itself – but Afghanistan ranks among the world’s most corrupt governments ever. Perhaps it is time to question where the loyalty of the Afghan head of state and its people truly lie. At the very least, it is despicable that an American officer is terminated for speaking the truth as virtually everyone knows it to be while we simultaneously coddle and placate foreign pseudo-warlords who brazenly and publicly treat their benefactors with contempt and openly declare future hostilities, all the while doing so with both hands out. It seems clear to me that we can receive this sort of treatment and behavior from numerous countries around the globe for free – so why pay for it?
Ahmad Shah Massoud would likely have been a much stronger ally in the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in the region, which is exactly why bin Laden’s terrorist group assassinated him when they did. In any event, I have long said that Afghans – if there is such a thing given the extreme lack of homogeneity in the country – are not ready or capable of democracy as we know it, and probably will not be during our lifetime. They are simply too far entrenched in the Stone Age for us to continue to expect them to make significant progress toward that goal – if that goal is even something they embrace.
*I typically try to avoid political conspiracy theories but given the administration’s adamant desire to leave the region it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Karzai is posturing himself for survival in an environment devoid of a direct United States presence. If we abruptly leave as the president so far insists we will, the Taliban, Pashtun warlords, and other power brokers will likely not sit idly by with a pro-American president at the helm. Perhaps Mr. Karzai is preemptively setting a tone of anti-Americanism to save his own skin, or at the very least his political power. He may even be working toward a reconciliation of sorts that would bring remnants of the Taliban back into the political fold – something that would greatly please Pakistan and position it as Afghanistan’s new benefactor (no doubt with laundered American aid money).