Afghanistan: Who is in charge here?
It is Karzai’s country, right? Before you have a “national guard” militia, you have to have a nation. I think that is Karzai’a position. Setting up militias as Petraeus wants is institutionalizing warlords, isn’t it?
Karzai’s argument would be that the deployment of forces should come top down, from the central government. Karzai’s central government could use the Petraeus strategy to recruit participation by local people and bridge the gap, perhaps.
The problem is that this takes time. Petraeus knows he doesn’t have the time. Karzai wants to buy more time to wait it out for Americans to get out of “his” space. If Karzai is strong enough, he’ll run the show. Chances are, he is not.
Who will run the show then? Answer: Taliban – with whose support?
No time for nuance, General, and in case your are listening Mr. President, bring the troops home now.
“Gen. Petraeus runs into resistance from Karzai over village defense forces
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 10, 2010
KABUL -- As he takes charge of the war effort in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus has met sharp resistance from President Hamid Karzai to an American plan to assist Afghan villagers in fighting the Taliban on their own.
A first meeting last week between the new commander and the Afghan president turned tense after Karzai renewed his objections to the plan, according to U.S. officials. The idea of recruiting villagers into local defense programs is a key part of the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, and Karzai's stance poses an early challenge to Petraeus as he tries to fashion a collaborative relationship with the Afghan leader.
Senior U.S. officials say that the United States would like to expand the program to about two dozen sites across Afghanistan, double the current number, and are hoping to overcome Karzai's concerns. But the issue is delicate to many who fear that such experiments could lead Afghanistan further into warlordism and out-of-control militias.
The U.S. initiative was developed under Petraeus's predecessor, ousted Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, although Petraeus has been a strong supporter of such programs. When Petraeus commanded the Iraq war, U.S. forces partnered with tens of thousands of civilian guards, including former insurgents, who fought against the group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Despite his tensions with other U.S. officials, McChrystal formed a close working relationship with Karzai. The question of whether Petraeus can replicate that bond remains a significant uncertainty hanging over the war effort.
"We always have long meetings and many arguments," said a senior Afghan official who was present at Karzai's meeting with Petraeus. "We always try to teach our foreign partners how to deal with a situation like this. We Afghans know better than you."
In his first week on the job, Petraeus has met with Karzai three times and discussed many topics. But on at least one issue, the village defense forces, the general has run into resistance from Karzai. The policy would give the United States and the Interior Ministry authority to pursue a variety of programs, including expanding the pilot projects that give uniforms and salaries to villagers trained by U.S. Special Operations forces.
The Afghan official said Karzai is wary of creating "a force that will be viewed as a private militia."”