It comes down to who is in command, and, according to the draft agreement, it's not the U.S. For one thing, U.S. forces can't conduct combat operations in Afghanistan without Afghan approval. For another, U.S. forces can't conduct counterterrorism operations, even against al-Qaida-brand terrorists, without Afghan approval. There is simply no long-term American interest that can be served if command is not in American hands.
So what is this agreement all about? "Advising, training, equipping, supporting, sustaining" Afghanistan's hopelessly untutorable armies and police in every conceivable area -- in other words, propping up a hostile, corrupt sharia state where see-no-Islam policies and counterinsurgency strategy long ago failed to achieve utopian goals of "nation-building." The Obama strategy, if one can call it that, seems more calculated to cover up that colossal Bush-Obama policy failure than to advance American interests.
For years, I have believed that there are no American interests in Afghanistan, certainly not any that are advanced by a standing military presence. The situation is even worse under an agreement that subordinates American actions to Afghan approval. Under this draft agreement, even when Afghans deem joint action "appropriate," it must include "full respect for Afghan sovereignty and full regard for the safety and security of the Afghan people, including in their homes."
In other words, the draft agreement is a blueprint for making an Afghan's home the Taliban's castle -- the guaranteed safe haven against U.S. counterterrorist actions, a place where the rules of engagement will continue to incur undue risk for U.S. servicemen, and serve enemy ends.
And that's what the U.S. "gets" for the privilege of serving as Hamid Karzai's rent-a-cop.
In exchange, Afghanistan continues to receive all manner of goodies, only now as an "obligation": "The United States shall have an obligation to seek funds on a yearly basis to support" the defense and security of the Afghan state, the draft agreement states. Sounds to me as if the Obama administration has just negotiated a new and massive entitlement program. Call it Afghan-O-care. Instead of community organizers serving as "navigators," the new entitlement provides "relevant Afghan institutions" to administer the moolah. "Taking into account Afghanistan's annual priorities, the United States shall direct appropriate funds through Afghan Government budgetary mechanisms, to be managed by relevant Afghan institutions ..."
The graft goes on.
But the Obama administration is claiming victory if only for having preserved U.S. jurisdiction over military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan. (American contractors and their American employees, however, are on their own under Afghan law.) What seems troubling, however, is a provision that allows the U.S. to give consent to surrender or transfer military personnel to the custody of an international tribunal or other state.
Why is that even in there? Would a government so blind to American interests be able to resist bilateral or multilateral or transnational or sharia calls for "justice"?
It's yet another point of concern for the U.S. Senate, which must start advising and, I trust, not consenting -- and soon.