Not so fast, Mr. Karzai

March 18, 2012 

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has stipulated he wants American troops to relinquish security operations in his country; specifically he wants soldiers out of the villages. Basically, Karzai told us to leave in 2013, not the following year as originally outlined by President Barack Obama.

In accordance to my fatigue level regarding this operation I’d like the United States and NATO to comply. My first instinct is to meet Karzai’s demands, post haste. Why wait two more years?

It would be so tempting to flee quickly. After all, wouldn’t it be proper for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the president to fulfill Karzai’s hunger for independence?

Watching national television news coverage of Afghans chanting anti-American slogans and burning an effigy of our president is enough for me to thank our servicemen and get them out of that forsaken region of the world.

Because of the irrational behavior of a lone U.S. serviceman that massacred 16 Afghans in a village in the Kandahar province last week, Karzai and many Afghans have decided to overlook America’s long-term commitment, not to mention the sweat equity since 2003. Why in the world politicians thought we could simultaneously fight the Taliban and establish a vibrant society, I’ll never understand.

I recognize the complexities in changing thousands of years of customs for a modern accountable form of civility and government. Sometimes we see up close and personal how difficult it is for our own people to grasp the importance of building and maintaining a framework of democratic principles and laws. The political battle over illegal immigrants in this country is but one example.

If there is one lesson we should have learned through our encounters in the Middle East it is this; not all countries desire what we desire. We have been naïve to think Afghanistan longed for a country that is stable, economically successful and committed to women’s rights, human rights and religious tolerance.

Our courageous, dedicated soldiers have been asked to perform humanitarian relief and assistance, maintain security, operate counter-narcotic programs, and all the while rebuild infrastructure for a country full of people who despise our assistance.

All the work the United States has performed in Afghanistan and all that we wish to accomplish should be highly lauded. However, the platitudes expressed in the past by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, top diplomat in the region, aren’t enough to remind the American public of why we should persist. They’re merely circuitous descriptions of why we are actually maintaining a presence there.

Remember, we were initially involved to toss the Taliban out of power, which we’ve done. Amazingly, under the current dynamics of negotiating, we’ve allowed the Taliban in the room with a seat at the peace table.

The Western mantra used to be, “We’ll fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.” Not so anymore as a majority of America wants our military fighters out of that predicament.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that we’ve have had enough. Sixty percent responded that the ongoing battles with Taliban fighters aren’t worth staying and 54 percent want troops to come home

By ending our mission prematurely we run the threat of allowing Taliban fighters to rebuild, regroup and reinforce. Ambassador Crocker said it best this week on Fox News channel, “The Taliban isn’t that tired and al-Qaeda, badly damaged, would be able to regenerate if the Taliban took the country over again.”

We can’t allow Karzai to bully us, thus causing us to forget American and NATO troops are at war with the Taliban. We can’t wilt as they persevere; to do so enables terrorists the prospect of designing another 9/11 scenario.

Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program.

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