As we continue to pour billions into Afghanistan and lose American lives, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced that Afghanistan is prepared to fight the United States if it attacks Pakistan. Karzai previously announced that he wished that he had supported the Taliban over the United States. Even with billions of dollars disappearing (including huge sums reportedly seized by the Karzai family), we continue to drain our treasury to prop up a corrupt and often overtly hostile government that denies women basic rights and has established increasing ties to the Taliban and other extremist groups. After ten years, we have an ally who not only says that he wishes he were with the Taliban killing Americans but intends to fight the United States if we end up in a war with Pakistan.
In an interview, Karzai assured Pakistani viewers that the choice would be easy if Pakistan were attacked (despite accusations that Pakistan was involved in killing the chief Afghan peace envoy, former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani recently): “God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan . . . If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan’s help, Afghanistan will be there with you.”
It is reminder that our policy in Afghanistan is not just a colossal failure but a colossal joke. After ten years, we were told that we are now just halfway to our goals in the country.
We have allowed our states and cities to shutdown basic services and programs while spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan. Yet, we do not hold the Democratic or Republican leaders responsible for this disastrous policy. There remains a disconcerting disconnect in our political system where politicians are not held accountable for major failures. Instead, voters are mesmerized by the arguments of both parties that the only thing that matters is keeping the other party from power. Our “blue state/red state” fixation has become the bread and circus distraction of modern politics. Politicians have succeeded in getting many voters to view politics as a team support where they have to cheer their team even if they hate the owner and lament the plays. Whether it is torture or the wars or the environment, there is no issue that is more important than supporting the team. It is a brilliant success of the two parties who control this country. They use each other to motivate voters and avoid responsibility.
Last week, I flew to Newark and watched a line of double amputees from the Marines getting unto a plane. They were incredibly young and I was touched by the care and kindness shown by the Marine Corp in arranging for their flights and care. Many of us stopped to thank them. However, inside I was filled with anger at the sacrifice of such incredible young men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have continued to lose lives and limbs in those countries because politicians lacked the courage to pull out our troops years ago. I kept thinking of Karzai and his corrupt family in watching these brave young men struggle to go through security and enter the plane. I am so thankful to them and so angry with our leaders. I am not alone. Yet, we have a political system that seems entirely disconnected from reality . . . and responsibility.