December 24th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Afghanistan in 2013: A unified nation at stake?

This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Juan Cole, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan. He maintains the popular blog, Informed Comment.

What does 2013 have in store for Afghanistan? As NATO and U.S. forces begin leaving in the thousands, and as their combat mission ends this coming year, can the green Afghanistan National Army take up the slack? With violence now higher than in 2009 when the Obama administration’s troop escalation was decided on, can any progress be made on political reconciliation? Will President Hamid Karzai resign and hold early elections for his successor, as he has suggested? Is there any hope for a more robust economy and a semblance of good governance, as financial scandals continue to rock Kabul? How will regional powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, India and Russia position themselves as Afghanistan moves out of the North Atlantic sphere of influence?

The Obama administration will certainly withdraw some of the 68,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan throughout 2013, though the timetable and the number to be pulled out have still not been decided. Gen. John Allen, outgoing commander of U.S. forces and of the International Security Assistance Forces in country reportedly wants to delay any further withdrawals until fall of next year. (Some 34,000 troops came out in 2012). Allen’s hand was presumably weakened in November, however, when he was reportedly investigated over inappropriate communications with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, as part of the fallout of an FBI investigation of CIA director, David Petraeus. He will be succeeded in 2013 by another Marine, Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, who spent 22 months in the Iraq War.

By summer of 2013, it is anticipated that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will draw to a close. By the end of 2014, only a few thousand U.S. troops will be left, and they will mainly supply close air support to the Afghanistan army when it engages in combat. Whether the some 350,000-strong Afghanistan security forces are up to the challenge of fighting the Taliban and other insurgents is a matter of great controversy. American officers in Kabul insist that the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) now takes the lead in 80 percent of operations against the enemy, up from 50 percent just last summer.  But a recent Pentagon review admitted that only one of 23 ANA brigades is capable of functioning on its own, without U.S. or ISAF help. In 2012, some 300 were dying every month in battles with the Taliban and other militant groups.  The ANA has low rates of literacy (a third the rate of the general population), high rates of drug use, and high rates of desertion. It is also disproportionately drawn from the Tajik, Dari Persian-speaking minority. Only 2 percent of the troops hail from Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the Pashtun south, the strongholds of the Taliban.

The map of Afghanistan’s provinces in the past few years has been overlain with the flags of the 49 European and other nations contributing to the ISAF mission, not counting the U.S. The 34,000 ISAF troops from NATO and other countries will begin winding down their presence in the coming year. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced early in 2012, “We expect the last Afghan provinces to come under Afghan security force control by the second half of 2013,” adding, “At that point our role will begin to gradually change: from a fighting one to one more focused on formation and training.” Other ISAF contingents will just be gone.  France, which at the height of its commitment had 4,000 troops there, is pulling out by the end of 2012.  Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the 1,550 remaining Australian troops will be withdrawn in 2013. Roughly half of the 9,000 British troops will be brought home.

The drawing down of the international military presence raises questions about the long-term aid commitments of Europe in particular. European nations have pledged billions to the funding over the next few years of the Afghanistan security forces, which are far too large to be paid for by Afghanistan’s own budget. But many observers wonder whether a Europe beset by economic crises will really follow through on its pledges. Civilian aid could also decline. The Asian Development Bank is projecting a slight fall in the rate of economic growth in Afghanistan in 2013, in part because of an expectation that foreign aid will decline.

There are also serious questions about how much of the aid is spent on the purposes for which it is appropriated. Afghanistan is possibly the most corrupt nation on earth, and persistent reports suggest that millions of aid dollars are smuggled back out of the country for the purposes of private graft every year. The banking system established by the outside powers after the fall of the Taliban is unstable and subject to runs, because of embezzlement on a grand scale. Whether an economy can truly grow in the shadow of a collapsing and corrupt banking system is a question that must be asked of Afghanistan, and the bubble could burst at any moment.

Since the fall of the Taliban late in 2001, Afghanistan has only known one president, the mercurial Hamid Karzai.  That could change in 2013. Without the big foreign troop presence, holding presidential elections on schedule in fall 2014 may be a security challenge. During the last campaign, turnout was woefully light in some Pashtun-majority provinces because the Taliban and other insurgents had threatened voters with reprisals. There were also charges of ballot-tampering on behalf of election officials biased toward Karzai, placing a taint on his third and final term, which is now drawing to a close. Karzai has suggested that it might be desirable to move the presidential election up to 2013, so that the country can profit from the greater security afforded by ISAF troops. This plan suggests a certain lack of faith in Afghan security forces on the part of the president.

Ironically, the draw-down of Western forces may make it easier for warring Afghan factions to begin serious negotiations with one another over the shape of the future. The United States has reportedly given up on attempting to play a role in those talks, and is bequeathing the task of achieving a negotiated settlement to the Afghans themselves and to Pakistan. The Taliban and other insurgent groups have repeatedly said that the end of the foreign troop presence is a precondition for any serious talks. Perhaps light at the end of that tunnel will be enough to at least begin behind-the-scenes discussions. It is also possible, however, that the radicals will attempt to improve their eventual bargaining position by taking more territory from Karzai and his successor.

Another troubling possibility is that the old Mujahidin warlords may become impatient if the ANA is seen to falter in its fight against the Taliban, and may reactivate regional and tribal militias of the sort that made the country a political and security patchwork in the early 1990s Ismail Khan, the former warlord of Herat, has pledged to bring back the Mujahidin after ISAF withdraws.

Finally, Afghanistan in the aftermath of the departure of the Europeans and Americans will be an arena for regional jockeying. The Tajiks of the north have a strong relationship with India and many resent Pakistan as a patron of the Taliban. Indian aid and diplomatic clout may grow in Kabul.  The Pashtuns of the south and east are often friendly to Pakistan, which has a history of whipping up fundamentalist Islam as a vehicle for Islamabad’s influence. The eastern Herat region is an appendage of Iran, and Iran may increase its influence with the Hazara Shiites in the center of the country.  Russia, which is attempting to reassert itself in Central Asia, has a profound fear of the debilitating effects of smuggled Afghan heroin on Russian youth. While Moscow has no intention of becoming embroiled in a military adventure, it is likely to expand its covert presence and to develop regional and local allies in a bid to stop the drug trade.

The year 2013 will be a turning point for Afghanistan, as Western military power wanes, and as regional powers assert their influence. The transition to a new presidential leadership could well occur a year early, with all the uncertainties it will bring. It is questionable whether the country can afford its bloated security apparatus, and further uncertain whether that apparatus can contain Muslim fundamentalist groups who are expanding their influence in the Pashtun areas.

Corruption and bank scandals will discourage international investment and perhaps even aid donors.  The very existence of a unified Afghan state could be at stake if the country’s elite and foreign patrons make the wrong policy choices.

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soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Lyndsie Graham

    Anyone with half a brain knows that the right-wing thugs in Washinton are trying to make Afghanistan another U.S. satillite state just as Russia did to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslavakia, etc. right after WW2. The Afghans deserve to have their own home state, free of foreign control.

    December 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • Anjaan

      You omitted to mention ............ through their proxy and long time ally .... Pakistan .......... !!! .... And this will happen along side blatant double dealing with India, drumming up the fake " friendship of the 21st century " ...... as if the Indians do not have brains ...... !!!

      December 25, 2012 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • Don

      That's right. Free of foreign control and free of foreign money too. Why? because most, if not all, of it will go into the hands of the corrupted few.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • Charlie

      The ultra right wing thugs are the Muslim people. These right wing Muslim thugs want women to have no rights and wear burqa. These ultra right wing conservative Muslims kill shia minority in Pakistan. These ultra right wing Muslim thugs do not want girls to go to school – they shot Malala. These Muslim right wing thugs cut of the nose and ears of Bibi Aisha. There is no one in the world who could possibly be more radical right wing than Muslims.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
      • Husain

        You couldn't have said it better, I'm glad there are some educated people commenting on this article.

        January 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
      • Kaiser

        Dear Indians and Pakistanis(Particularly Indians) who have commented on this article, will you people ever grow up and become mentally mature ? People in your countries are dying of hunger and you incite religious hatred . If Pakistan is fingering Kashmir, India is fingering Baluchistan from Afghanistan with the Aim of tying down two Army Corps on the western borer with Afghanistan.
        The World is aware of your activities and we are not prepared to take any more nonsense from your starving nations who tout nuclear weapons ! SHAME ON YOU!

        December 7, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • palintwit

      So now Obama is a right-wing thug?

      January 2, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • Bill

      Remember that the Taliban were a creation of Pakistan, just as Al Qaeda was a direct result of their funding (which was supplied by the U.S.) back during the Soviet era war. Pakistan and India are both trying to extend their influence in that nation after the United States leaves. The biggest mistake the U.S. made was attempting to change a failed nation, rather than just destroying Al Qaeda and ensuring any follow up government (even the Taliban) no longer supports any organizations that will attack Americans. That could have been done on a much smaller scale, rather than an invastion and an attempt to set up a government. I do not care how the Afghanistani men treat their woman, it is not something the U.S. can change in every country. They live how they want to, and we can only concern ourselves with destroying our enemies. The U.S. spent almost two trillion on two wars, one completely unnecessary the other necessary but a strategic blunder. Ultimately, the likes of Paksitan, a failed state itself, will dictate much of the disaster that ensues after the U.S. leaves.

      January 2, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • myr

      You seem to be too young for not remembering the horror of 9-11 emanating from al-Qaeda's presence in Afghanistan. Hope you are not suggesting to have that scenario replayed by leaving that country for extremists to gallop again...

      January 6, 2013 at 7:44 am | Reply
  2. Sher Jan Ahmadzai

    The problem with such writers is that they don't live in a society which they write about. Most of their arguments look to be theoretical and rhetorical rather than based on ground realities and the changing socio-political dynamics of Afghan society that has been seen in the last 10 years. His arguments look to be through the prism of 90s and civil war which I believe look distant since the Afghan society has drastically evolved into a different and more aware of its surroundings and political changes.

    December 25, 2012 at 2:30 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Perhaps life in Kabul might be different for a small percentage of Afghans. Otherwise in rural areas, life for most Afghans is tough and their future dim.
      What the author wrote about, wasn't far from reality. It's quite worrying, that the warlords and the Taliban have gained significant strenght in recently years. At the end of the day, its the civilians who have to bear the brunt of this power struggle.

      December 27, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply
  3. JAL

    Fareed, you are not shedding any light on steroid/PED abuse. You try to bring all issues to light, so why not this one? Bullying is a rolling ball of steroid abuse. Meekness is mocked in the steroid culture that is rampant in US society. If a person doesnt do steroids they are considered feminine, and even commercials have doctors diagnosing "lowT". Is meekness weakness?

    December 25, 2012 at 6:59 am | Reply
  4. Terry Taerum

    It is safe to say that 2013 will be the year of mianzi (saving face) so far as Afghanistan is concerned. Ironically, the only country not having to worry about mianzi will be China. The liberal media which supported Obama's faint imitation of Bush's effective surge in Iraq will suggest the failure was somehow due to, well, Bush. It's not that the ANA will be totally ineffective but, unlike NATO forces spread thin at "strategic" points in Afghanistan, the ANA will retreat to safer climes. They will be able to argue they have been very effective at protecting the north – what else should be expected of such courageous warriors.

    December 25, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • Don

      The failure in Afghanistan should not be blamed on just one or both administration, but on American hubris, that we can win any struggle without paying for the consequences. Even after 10 or more years in Afghanistan what have we achieved except brief interludes of non-violence in the capital city of Kabul, and some improvement in the country's infrastructure?

      Somebody please do the math for me: how much would we have saved by not getting involved in the first place and instead invested those billions of dollars in our infrastructure? Who benefited from all this? Why, a few corrupt government officials and some police, the former to enrich their coffers (which were subsequently sheltered in some Gulf State bank, and the latter as an act of economic survival). And don't forget the dual faced role played by Pakistan. That all goes back to Ahmed Khan and his sale of Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Korea and possibly in the hands of other rogue governments, a policy that has held the West hostage to threats of nuclear weapon proliferation.

      " [the spreading of] Democracy should not be a blood sport, " quoted President Clinton. Republicans seem to enjoy these blood sports.

      December 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  5. RZ

    The theory that Afghan Tajiks of the north have a strong relationship with India and the Pashtuns of the south and east are often friendly to Pakistan no longer prevails at any sense or logic. This is history now! In today's Afghanistan political dynamics have evolved and significant changes are seen in Afghans mindset. Thus, the presumptions that Tajiks are more close to Indian and Pashtus to Pakistanis is no longer represent realities. Dynamics of today's Afghanistan politics vs ethnic groups and their affiliation with countries in the region as well as beyond the greater region (including China and Russia) have changed significantly. It seems the writer used some wording from Wikipedia to paint his piece of writing with some insight story – which is unrealistic. Not sure why columnists are not trying to accept realities and reflect what exist in today's Afghanistan rather what existed in cold war days.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
    • Don

      Sorry to disagree with you but it is obvious that there is still much factionalism in the country between Hazaras, Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks. Anyone who denies this is not facing reality.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  6. wjmccartan

    Afghananistan is not that different then Nigeria, or Zimbabwae, or other African countries that have untold wealth wether that be in minerals or other commodities. The trick will be to see if they can avoid some of the pitfalls that have caused so much in-fighting that the entire nation suffers as a result. This large country with entire swaths of its country side full of the uneducated people who are just trying to live for today and can't afford to think about tomorrow never mind next year, someone comes along and takes control of their land and population, with no thought of helping these people, but would try to use the people for their own ends regardless of the human cost. With all of its riches in the ground you will see operations opening up to gut the country of its wealth. This will continue to be a sad state for decades to come, unless they find some way to take the power into their own hands for their own future. We will still be talking about this country in the year 2027 with no end in site, such is the world we live in.

    December 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  7. sattar rind

    Afghanistan national Army will not be able to face Taliban without support of US/ NATO troops. Taliban must attack Kabul once these forces being out of Afghanistan. There are factions within the so called Afghanistan National Army; they might be in fight with each other. the huge fight is awaiting in Afghanistan when NATO / US army left the Afghanistan, therefore what did USA in ten years in Afghanistan must be insured that that process will continue and no one dare to attack on Kabul than they may get out their forces. Otherwise I do not see any thing positive but civil war within the faction in Afghanistan government and Taliban and government

    December 27, 2012 at 4:39 am | Reply
  8. Oxiana

    Zakaria and the author, I'm deeply shocked to discover that after 12 years of engagement in Afghanistan your views has not changed. Let me take the opportunity to clarify some points from the ground.
    1- Afghaniatan is a country of minorities and please stop constructing an ethnic majority, and this is going on for over 100 years that the foreign powers has helped one ethnic group into power and certified their claim to be majority. Look at the map and by the way to this date there has not been census in Afghanistan to determine the numeric strength of ethnic groups.
    2- your pint that Tajiks are dominating the army and they are minority is a very false and very old story. The minster of defence was a Pashtun from 2004-2012 and I'm sure he changed the dynamic and army ethnic composition in his 9 years tenure. Please reconsider your claim, since changed the thing balance of the army in favour of Pashtuns.
    3- the bulk of real fighting force against Taliban are non-Pashtuns and a lot Of insider attacks happened because increasing Pashtun army members was the target and not the quality of the soldier.
    4- please stop serving the the Pashtuns by calling other ethnic groups leaders warlords. By labelling others as warlord you are intentionally supporting Pashtuns and spreading the conspiracy of Pashtun technocrats. You are indeed in service of t

    December 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    • Don

      The article is the view of the author, not Zakaria.

      December 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  9. Oxiana

    Such cliche type analysis really disappoint me with the scholarship of the western world. Please read history and culture of the region known as Afghanistan and this way you could rescue yourself from depending into very simplistic analysis. And looking at things from comfort. Your analysis has been helping reinforce the established state perpetuated discourse which was fabricated and introduced through colonials british east India to the world as the reality in Afghanistan. Those people that you call warlords were actually the ones who give a blow to the fabricated myth. What the international community has blindly did over the past 11 years to re-establish the fabricated myth and the domination of Pashtuns. I hope to see more serious and critical work from you in future.

    December 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  10. Sal

    Afghanistan is similar to Haiti in the sense that there is nothing we can do to help them people because they refuse to help themselves! 

    December 31, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
  11. wali

    No one has achieved anything in Afghanistan. The British were forced to flee Afghanistan in 1841. The Soviet Union was forced to leave in 1989 after a decade of war. The Afghan war has been the longest war in the history of United States and it is unfortunate that it will go down in history as a defeat.

    December 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  12. jazz

    did anyone hear about a 'significant' event in afghanistan today – something really 'weird' like an earthquake or really unusual weather?

    December 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  13. para

    The best thing the U.S. can do is to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Reply
    • Don

      Well, it won't be a complete withdrawal. As you may not know, the Administration says there will still be some U.S. personnel (advisors?) there for an indefinite length of time. The hemorrhage of U.S $ continues.

      December 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
    • Chuck

      Most troops can leave. However, drones need to stay to ensure that Pakistanis obey and do not disrupt the progress being made in Afghanistan.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:37 am | Reply
      • palintwit

        And what progress is that?

        January 2, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  14. brown

    The U.S. loss in Afghanistan is only the beginning of a much greater catastrophe coming to America.

    Whom to blame ... ultimately, the American electorate.

    Americans have yet to hold their representatives accountable or demand real answers regarding the events of September 11, 2001., how the last two failed wars have been prosecuted, etc.

    The public is indifferent and ignorant of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Forty percent of the population cannot find Afghanistan on a map.

    We are an incredibly misnformed electorate, the consequences of which we will likely find too difficult to accept.

    Beware, we are not safe.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:57 am | Reply
    • Jake

      @brown – I have nothing against you brown people but your post is ridiculous. There is no comparison between the level of education of the American electorate and your Pakistani or Afghan electorate. Here, we saw two Harvard educated candidate debate each others ideas recently. We listened to those debates and chose one of them using votes. You either have dictators or puppets of dictators there. Your uneducated people listen to whoever makes the loudest explosions and kill the most innocent people.
      What led to the events of 911 was addressed very well. The terrorist was eliminated in Pakistan in an impressive operation. Your Pakistanis have been trying again and again but they have failed miserably since there has not been another 911 since. You need to worry about your own safety from the terrorists you are nurturing in there and the drones which are eliminating them.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:57 am | Reply
  15. insanetimes

    Mr. Zakaria, thank you for all of your insights these many years. However, I don't care anymore. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, The Koreas, etc, etc, etc. Most of these countries don't like us and I no longer care about them. A sky filled with drones is preferable to American troops on the ground. We are being bled dry by both our enemies and friends simultaneously. If we are the enemy then so be it. If IEDs and suicide bombers are acceptable weapons then drones are the least inhumane and indiscriminate of these. I'm simply tired and don't want to hear it anymore. Let them all fight their own civil wars and the winners take all.

    January 1, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
  16. Kamal

    Interesting Article. It seems to me that ANA (Afghan National Army) is actually Tajik Army. They can never succeed. Majority of Afghans are Pashtuns. ANA stands no chance while confronting Pashtuns. US/NATO has created a recipe for disaster both for themselves and average Afghans.

    ANA better be renamed as Tajik Afghan Army (TAA). Get real

    January 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  17. jezail.og

    I am someone with a deep background in the fighting in Afghaanistan dating back to 1983. I was part of 2 delegations to the UN with Mujaheddin delegations and carried a rifle with them. I have worked with both Hezbis as well as Jamiat and NIFA and knew all of the leadership dating back to those times. Much of what this article speculates on WILL happen. I'm afraid I have something controvercial to say on a hungover New Year's Day.

    Ismael Khan is doing the natural thing for Afghanistan. People here may want to pull the old "warlord" word out of the closet and paint them as monsters, etc., but the reality is that Afghanistan has always functioned better as a decentralized state. That will happen again and Dostom will also likely be a key player and you can also count on some new faces taking the helm of old ethnic and regional militias.

    The ANA is a distraction. They don't matter to anybody in Afghanistan. They wont even be able to cover an American retreat if needed. They are nothing more than a presidential guard with a lot of hangers on getting meals to appear like a much larger organization. But if real fighting breaks out, some 75% will melt away in the night. The people who will oppose the Taliban will be the old Northern Alliance. Pakistan will be funding the Taliban or something that replaces them, a harsh Islamist organization made up entirely of Pashtuns.

    The remaining militias have a very good chance of beating the Taliban and Pakistan. That's what most of the newly minted "experts" on Afghanistan don't know. It's just a matter of supply. Before America invented the ANA, Afghans had a reputation for being the best natural fighters in the world. They defeated the Soviets. It is an ironic reality that the best thing that can happen for Afghans to resist the Taliban is for the US to get out. All they need is adequate supply and NOT American soldiers.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  18. rightospeak

    We lost fine men and our treasury in a war there that is a lot longer than WW II-all for nothing. If we had a democracy and investigating journalists instead of oligarchial elites ruling our country and our media , 9/11 would have been discovered for the hoax it was, the perpetrators would be in jail along with Wall Street bankers and we would not be bankrupt. Fiscal Cloiff would not be the smoke screen to blind the American public to the real debt of $16+ trillion. If we are to survive as a nation the endless wars need to stop-too little discussion on that issue. The" Exporting of America" book that Lou Dobbs from CNN wrote in 2004 needs to be reread in DC and the trend reversed to create jobs for Americans. The French were smart-gone from Afganistan.

    January 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, rightospeak. Nothing could be closer to the truth! Unfortunately, the American public is dumb enough to fall for what the government says!

      January 1, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • palintwit

      We'll end up fleeing there with our tails between our legs, just like Vietnam and Iraq.

      January 2, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  19. Mason K Yu Jr.

    Alexander the Great tried, Ghenhis Khan failed, the British, then the Soviets in the '80s, now the US.

    Empires and the world's greatest generals have tried to subjugate this land......since when Americans
    are so pompous to change and rewrite history...... Humvees stuck in torrential spring rains, thousands
    of mountains and hiding spots in caves, brutal winters. The natives have used horses for thousands
    of years, ...none of these facts seemed to matter since the US has blown 600B into this 10 year
    quagmire .......suggestion, have our future commander-in-chiefs study world history and geography
    in DEPTH, then consider a future foreign campaign....God knows we need the money stateside for
    our fiscal cliff...SOS...SOS...SOS...SOS...SOS ....

    January 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  20. The_Mick

    Lawmakers are now worried Iraq is becoming an ally of Iran, just as I pointed out on these pages, nearly a decade ago, was the clear result of our foolish put-the-Shiites-in-control policy. And now fools are asking if Afghanistan will become united after we forced Karzai on them, which caused corruption like village elders winning elections and then having to pay bribes in Kabul to get the official papers granting them authority, and where official Afghan police often led raids aimed at nothing more than stealing from people's houses. The government is hated. The Taliban are hated. There's going to be a mess there for years, maybe decades.

    January 2, 2013 at 9:52 am | Reply
    • Ken

      There is not a single Shiite in the whole of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, the terrorist club, consists only of Sunni Muslim members. The mass murderer bin Laden was a Sunni. Al Jawahiri is a Sunni. Almost all of Pakistan is Sunni and that is where these Al Qaeda terrorists are hiding. Where do you get your information from? Could you please use google to look up facts.

      January 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  21. ,,70,000 CEVILAINS KILLED IN SYRIA,,,,,,

    IT IS ABOUT 70,000 CEVILINAS ARE KILLED IN SYRIA BY THE IRANIANS BACK GOVERNMENT BACKED BY RUSSIA WEAPONS FROM IRAN AND IRAQ AND FIGHTERS FROM IRAQI SHIIA AND HEZBOLLAH THOSE EVIL TERROR SHIIA THUGS USE TAQEYA TO LIE TO USA.the number 70,000 is the correct number plus more than 54000 child women and old men died from hunger ,sickness illness related to war which is not count for, and more than 143000 prisoners all Sunni , kurds captured by the alwayet SHIIA cult 12% of the populations . while usa, France, NATO and UN doing nothing why Libya and Iraq were attacked for only 400 death!!!!!!!is it because there is not much oil in Syria!!!!shame on you OBAMA,.,.,.,.,.,.

    January 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      President Obama is not killing anyone in Syria. He is busy saving innocent lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan by eliminating Al Qaeda Sunni Muslim terrorists there. He is spending billions to clean up the Muslim menace in the Afpak region. President Obama is not motivated by oil. There is no oil in Afghanistan or Pakistan – those people are worthless losers, there is nothing valuable there.
      In Syria, Muslims are killing Muslims. So, shame on you Islam!

      January 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  22. ,,70,000 CEVILAINS KILLED IN SYRIA,,,,,,


    January 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      These atrocities by Muslims in Syria are truly terrible.
      You asked "Where is USA?" USA is taking care of Al Qaeda.
      Al Qaeda terrorists are Sunni Muslims and are responsible for the worst killings around the world.
      Sunni Muslims are a thousand times worse than the Shia Muslims if you judge them by their acts of terrorism.
      So, the USA doing something far more important, they are taking strong actions against the worse kind of Muslims first in the Afpak region.
      The proper question to ask here is "Where are the Arabs? Why don't they do something good instead of just pumping oil while their own kind are suffering?".

      January 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  23. krm1007 © ™

    Let's not kid ourselves. We had to invade Afghanistan to save our pride and to show the world that we had the financing and forbearance to fight this war on ground chasing the shadows. But ego aside, we all know that winning the endeavors in Afghanistan is not possible without Pakistan. Yes, we have cajoled Pakistan over the years, threatened them, poor boyed them, played the neighbor against them, let the congressional dogs lose doing the god guy – bad guy routine and done the carrot – stick dance. All to no avail. We tried partnering with India in Afghanistan and that has been a disaster. We may have won a battle or two but are on the verge of losing the war. We have hit a wall.

    January 5, 2013 at 6:10 am | Reply
    • krm1007 © ™

      The time has now come to do the tango with Pakistan. That takes boldness and a desire to commit one self. And that is what we need to do. We need to form a strategic partnership with Pakistan...a long term alliance...and a commitment. We need to lay the cards on the table and not pull the rug from under them. At the same time we need to make them understand the consequences of going wayward on us. We need to evolve a common vision...and common grounds for constructive engagement. We then need to support them and then let them implement the common vision in the region under our supervision. After all, they can do it more productively, efficiently and economically than we can. That is for sure... a lesson we have learned the hard way.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:10 am | Reply
      • BR

        I think the US citizens should remember why their army came to Afghanistan. Have the terrorism removed from the region? Who gave Ben Laden the courage to attack at United States? Where the fundamentalist are and who supports them? Can Pakistan survived without fundamentalism? If the US government fundamentalism in Pakistan, the 9,11 won’t be repeated again? What did the Pakistani army do with the previous supports of US?

        January 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • BR

        I think the US citizens should remember why their army came to Afghanistan. Have the terrorism removed from the region? Who gave Ben Laden the courage to attack at United States? Where the fundamentalist are and who supports them? Can Pakistan survived without fundamentalism? If the US government ignore fundamentalism in Pakistan, the 9,11 won’t be repeated again? What did the Pakistani army do with the previous supports of US?

        January 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  24. krm1007 ©™

    We now need to focus on India. The American invasion of Afghanistan brought to the forefront the irrelevance of India as a nation. With a population of over 1.2 billion people there was no value that this nation could bring to the table. Their soldiers (ragtag) 1.2 million continue hiding in the trenches scared from Talibans. A few teenage Talibans invaded the country and held it hostage for days on end showing how useless India is. It was embarrasing for the world to observe this humiliation of a nation that was being touted as a regional power.

    I continue to read with interest the thesis presented on CNN that "less is more" in a political context as applied to India. Although Mies Van Der Rohe adopted this in an architectural context, its economic and political connotations are indeed powerful. Empowering subjugated minorities in India by splitting it into smaller states would trigger uber economic demand for western nations who have given so much financial and technology aid to India with no return to show for the investment. I concur with this approach and with an economic background find the premise to be on solid footing. Central Asian States (CAS) are a case in point on this successful approach. We need to understand that India has an unmanageable large population mired in poverty and we are spinning our wheels trying to feed it. It is also too big of a geographical unit to govern. Again, we saw how a few teenage talibans were able to invade it with a few BB guns. And that says a lot... in a negative way not only for a large unmanageable country like India but also for USA which is trying to prop it up against China. Besides, Americans cannot afford to look like losers in the midst of a terror war which has lasted for over ten years now.

    January 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • Pete D

      Well said. With the recent "gang r@pe" incidents surfacing out of India, we need to protect the region from India fallout. Imagine 1.5 Billion people craeting havoc in the region.

      January 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  25. Appleby

    We continue to be of the opinion that India is a zero sum event in history and that a break up of sorts is the optimum way to maximize its potential for the people. The current events in India reinforce our belief that the inevitable implosion of India has begun and the beginning of the end state is upon us. Whether that will be nirvana that most of us believe it will, is yet to be seen. But this we will say. This defragmentation of India will unleash boundless opportunities and uber economic demand that will be beneficial to US and Europe and help pull them out of current recessionary malaise. We pray for the events to unfold peacefully and in a harmonious manner for the people of India and its neighbors.

    January 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply

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