US may pull all troops out of Afghanistan next year
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is acting more and more like the last president of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu. This, from Thieu's obit in the New York Times in 2001:
But a recently published book by Larry Berman, ''No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam,'' (The Free Press), draws on previously secret archives to show that President Richard M. Nixon and Henry S. Kissinger, then the national security adviser, ignored Mr. Thieu's objections to their peace negotiations with Hanoi and agreed to withdraw American troops from Vietnam without any guarantees that North Vietnam would respect the Paris peace accords of 1973.
Mr. Berman, a professor and director of the University of California Washington Center, wrote that Nixon and Mr. Kissinger knew that under the accords North Vietnam would keep its troops in the south, and that they both expected North Vietnam to violate the accords with further offensive operations. The two men were willing to accept this risk merely to get a peace agreement so they would have something to present to the American people, Professor Berman wrote, and Nixon secretly pledged to Mr. Thieu that he would resume American B-52 bomber raids against North Vietnam in retaliation for any stepped-up Communist attacks.
But Watergate intervened, eventually driving Nixon from office before the final North Vietnamese offensive began in March 1975. So the American B-52's, which had blunted a North Vietnamese offensive in 1972 before the peace agreement, even without American ground troops, never returned.
In Mr. Berman's account, Mr. Thieu emerges as far more clear-sighted than either Nixon or Mr. Kissinger about the North Vietnamese and their intentions.
Karzai is also worried about American support if the Taliban overruns his country. And like Nixon, it appears that Obama will leave the Afghan president out to dry with nowhere to go..
The administration is currently negotiating with the Afghan government to keep a residual force for support in the country after the departure of U.S. military troops in 2014. The report, though, said Obama is now seriously weighing ending those talks after a videoconference with Afghan President Karzai, designed to reduce tensions, ended badly.
U.S. and European officials said that while Karzai had made similar accusations in the past, it was the first time he had made such comments directly to Obama, who took offense and cited the Americans who have died in the country's longest war as proof of the U.S. commitment.
"There's always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option," a senior Western official told the Times. "It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path."
Officials though cautioned that the Obama administration may be using the option to pressure Karzai in negotiations.
The Afghan army is improving but is still incapable of securing provinces from which NATO troops have been withdrawn. Karzai is going to need our troops to backstop his inexperienced army, but if he keeps acting like President Thieu, he will be looking at resort property somewhere in Dubai for his exile following a Taliban victory.
Those who ignore history...