Karzai: Accidental Master of America's Peace?

It seems an almost certainty that Afghan President Hamid Karzai won't sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, the same agreement which the Obama administration was just a few months ago telling us needed to be signed by the end of 2013, or US forces would be obligated to leave Afghanistan, foregoing plans to leave a residual presence of over 10,000 soldiers for the next ten years and beyond.

If the next president of Afghanistan decides to follow in Karzai's footsteps, it would mean that 2014 marks the end of America's longest war. As several Pentagon experts have commented, the war in Afghanistan will continue whether the United States stays or leaves. What is almost certain is that it will last much longer if the United States stays behind. Karzai recognizes this, and in one last act of revolt, the one act which will allow him to live a life saying he was not a US puppet, he decides not to sign the BSA.

No expert can truly know for sure what is going through Karzai's mind, but if recent comments by Afghan officials are to be accepted factually, he believes that the Americans: "may have aided or conducted shadowy insurgent-style attacks to undermine his government."  

If the "senior Afghan officials" consulted by the Washington Post are to be believed, Karzai now sees the United States as the real sponsor of terror. Karzai has become what the US mainstream media would classify as a: conspiracy theorist.

The Afghan army has defeated the Taliban in almost every single gunfight over the past fighting season, giving Karzai more certainty that the Taliban can be suppressed or eventually appeased without outside interference. Though Iraq now finds itself on the verge of collapse at the behest of radical Sunni separatists, Afghanistan is different. 

The Northern Alliance controlled a large chunk of territory and it was with their help that the US managed to so quickly take over Afghanistan after the invasion. A combination of US special forces, US air power, and Northern Alliance troops quickly tore through Taliban ranks and pushed them into retreat and hiding.

In the eyes of the Taliban and much of the local populace, the US government was simply helping the Northern Alliance (an at the outset largely Tajik military movement) defeat a largely Pashtun government. Karzai is a Pashtun, but was seen as a puppet; it appears, however, that the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, and the Hazaras will have to accept Pashtun dominion, for Karzai is no puppet. He is willing to risk the further collapse of Afghanistan to prove it.

If Afghanistan does indeed collapse, things will quickly settle along tribal lines. But Karzai believes that Afghanistan won't collapse. The Taliban has reformed in many ways and is increasingly weaker in the face of the increasingly-professional Afghan army.

But America will do everything in its power to make sure that Afghanistan needs her. If the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the drone war in Pakistan will have to come to an end, for it would be too difficult to launch drones from other bases in Central Asia. The Haqqani Network and the Pakistani Taliban will multiply and tear at both Pakistan and Afghanistan in the same way that the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham is currently tearing at Syria and Iraq.

Perhaps Karzai believes that the next president of Afghanistan can work with the Pakistani military to defeat or pacify a common threat. Only time can truly tell how things will change, but as far as the war masters are concerned, only Pakistani and American involvement will change.