After NATO leaves, the fall of the Karzai regime is inevitable
Tue May 29 2012
The NATO summit in Chicago this month was mostly about how to get NATO troops out of Afghanistan without causing too much embarrassment to the Western governments that sent them, and a little bit about how to ensure that the Taliban don’t take over again once the Western troops leave.
The timetable for NATO’s withdrawal is now graven in stone: all Western troops will be withdrawn from actual combat by the end of 2013, and they will all be out of the country by the end of 2014 (except the French, who will all leave by December of this year). This timetable will be adhered to no matter how the situation on the ground develops — or more likely, degrades — in the next two years. After that, it’s entirely in the Afghans’ hands.
There was some pretty rhetoric to soften this harsh fact: “As Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone,” declared U.S. President Barack Obama. But alone is exactly where they will be, although NATO is promising to send the Afghan government $4 billion US a year to enable its army to stand up to the Taliban. The Western alliance has finally accepted that if the foreign troops cannot defeat the Taliban in 11 years, they are most unlikely to do so in 13 or 15 years.
According to the Pentagon’s own numbers, each American soldier in Afghanistan costs about $1 million a year. Pashtun teenagers, eager to show their worth fighting against the foreigners, can be had for about $200 a month each — and there is an almost inexhaustible supply of young Pashtun males. The war was unwinnable from the start.