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June 19, 2013

"Smart Power" at Work

Thank God the Smart People are finally in charge of US foreign policy:

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, has suspended talks on a long-term security deal to keep US troops in his country after Nato leaves in 2014, accusing Washington of duplicity in its efforts to start peace talks with the Taliban.

The announcement came the day after the Taliban opened a "political office" in Qatar, saying they wanted to seek a peaceful solution to the war in Afghanistan, and the US announced plans for talks with the insurgent group.

News that American diplomats would sit down with Taliban leaders for the first time since the US helped oust the group from power in 2001 prompted speculation that real progress towards a negotiated end to the war might be in sight.

US officials underlined that they aimed mostly to facilitate talks between Afghans, although they do have issues to tackle directly with the Taliban, including a possible prisoner exchange.

But while the Taliban hinted at meeting US demands of a break with al-Qaida – saying Afghan soil should not be used to harm other countries – there was only the barest of nods to the Afghan government's request that they talk to the current administration and respect the constitution.

Diplomats say Karzai was kept in the loop about plans for the formal opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, but had expected it to be couched differently. After hours of ominous silence, his office issued a terse statement in effect condemning the move.

"In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently under way in Kabul between Afghan and US delegations on the bilateral security agreement," the palace said.

The final straw for Karzai was their display of a white Taliban flag and repeated use of the name "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", both in their statement and on a printed backdrop used for a televised press conference, according a senior Afghan official.

It was the name the group used when they ruled from Kabul, and together with their official flag gave the group's representatives the air of a government-in-exile as they addressed the media.

The US had pledged the Taliban would only be able to use the office as base for talks, not as a political platform, and Karzai felt the press conference was a clear violation of that promise, an official Afghan source told the Guardian.

The president was also unhappy about the lack of any reference to the country's constitution, which both he and the US say the Taliban must respect.

Instead the statement made more than one reference to the "establishment of an independent Islamic government"; as the group have often denounced Karzai as a puppet, that could be read as a call for a change of leader or change of system.

We'll say one thing: this certainly sends a clear message to our allies about the advantages of working with the United States.

Posted by Cassandra at June 19, 2013 05:03 PM

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Hi Cass,
Obummer's foreign policy is so bad even the NYT is complaining. Commentary has a couple good posts on this, with pointed criticism of who Obama has chosen to antagonize (Netanyahu sp?, the British, Merkel, Putin) and his preferred friends (Erdogan, Medved (Putin's pet!), Morsi.

I'm not sure he could do worse if he was trying . . . unilateral nuclear reductions?

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 19, 2013 05:54 PM

Look, I know I shouldn't be telling you this. I mean, if anyone finds out I'll be bunking with Snowden in a gulag in Outer Mongolia. But, this is all part of a plan. You see, Obama is trying to lure the Taliban into attending a meet & greet in some out of the way dump in Doha, but they got skittish, yanno? I mean, here's the O-Man laying on the big grin and talking "Peace in Our Time" while it still "Drone Whack-a-Mole" for the Taliban cadre. Really. Would you trust his guy? Anyway, the O-Man needed something to assure these guys that he was on the level, and Karzai provided the perfect schlump for the job. Obama looks like he's tossing Karzai under the bus. Karzai gets huffy and pouts. And the next thing you know, the Taliban are making hotel reservations at the Qatar Holiday Inn. Except, it's going to end end being more like "Roach Motel." Get it? They check in but... It's fricken' brilliant, man. I mean, he killed Osama. Fricken' brilliant.

Posted by: spd rdr at June 19, 2013 06:24 PM

I'm guessing this means there will be pictures of Our Leader, raptly watching every moment of the action live in the Situation Room?

In a way, it would be a relief to find something this guy is paying attention to.

Capt. Mike, never fear. The erstwhile Junior Senator from Massachusetts is on the job!

Posted by: Cassandra at June 19, 2013 06:51 PM

Hi again Cass,
How very droll, and cruel.

Perhaps the only modern American that has proven to be more consistently wrong on foreign policy than the 'French speaking former senator that served in Viet Nam and married into wealth' is Joe numbskull Biden.

With any luck Obama will receive full credit for his domestic and foreign policies, and voters will cashier libs/dems in 2014.


Very Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 21, 2013 08:56 PM