This is called biting the hand that feeds you.
Mr. Karzai sees the handwriting on the wall. Obama has said he will withdraw the troops. This means the Taliban will once again run Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai will not. That is because Mr. Karzai will be gone, one way or another: either by plane or by a more colorful mode of departure.
Alexander the Great came and went. So did the Mongols. So did the British. So did the Russians.
More of them came than departed. That is the #1 lesson of conquering Afghanistan. But managers of empires seem not to learn it.
The managers hire puppets. The puppets strut across the stage for as long as the empires keep the strings moving. But, in every case, the empires cut the strings and departed. Then the puppets had a problem.
Mr. Karzai is a puppet. His strings are about to be cut.
I wrote the following on September 16, 2001. It was published on September 17, 2001 on Lew Rockwell’s site.
Let’s review a little well-known history. In 1989, the Soviet Union retreated from Afghanistan. Within two years, there was no longer any Soviet Union. The shock of that defeat undermined the legitimacy of the Soviet Empire. A decade earlier, their tanks had rolled down the highway from the border into Kabul. They surrounded the city of Kabul with their tanks in one day. What good did this do them? None. It cost them their empire.
Now let’s review a little unknown history. Think about maps again. How did the Soviet Union drive 30-ton tanks from the edge of what used to be the USSR into Kabul in just one day? How did tanks get through the mountains? Did they drive down a paved highway? Well, as a matter of fact, they did. It had been built 13 years earlier by 8,000 Afghans under the supervision of Russians. Here’s the capper: the project was paid for by the United States. It was a joint construction project. This was reported in the November 3, 1966 issue of the Engineering News-Record, “Rugged Afghan Road Jobs Fill Gaps in Trans-Asia Network.” (I may be one of only two people in the world who clipped that article for his files in 1966. The other was the person who sent me the photocopy.)
So, while 55,000 American troops were dying in Vietnam, battling a tiny nation funded by the USSR, President Johnson was building the road that the Soviets used in 1979 to invade Afghanistan. There should have been a sign at the side of the road: “Americans’ tax dollars at work.”
As it turned out, that was the best money this country spent on the Cold War. It was like a giant neon sign that read, “Come and get it!” The Soviets came, and they got it. Now it’s our turn.
Then I offered this assessment:
There are only two ways to fight terrorism with any hope of success: (1) implacable, unrelenting counter-terrorism through endless law-breaking; or (2) unrelenting, implacable justice and the rule of law and liberty. The first approach can bottle up terrorism for a time, but any perceived slackening of the campaign leads to defeat. This nation had better choose the second way.
This nation chose the first way. The voters demanded it. Now they get to pay for it.
It is now 2013. We are still there. Obama will slowly pull out the troops. We clearly have lost the war. There was no doubt in my mind in 2001, that we would lose this war. The federal government has spent over $640 billion dollars in Afghanistan so far, to lose a war that clearly could not be won.
Americans put little American flags on their cars in 2001. Bush demanded war. The voters demanded war. They got what they wanted, good and hard.
They also got the Department of Homeland Security. Then they got the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2011.
The total cost of federal money spent on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is about $3.2 trillion, but we’re not 100% out of any of them yet. The cost of our mercenaries in Iraq continues to mount.
Meanwhile, Karzai blames us.
He will not be around much longer to blame anyone.