Actually this story is about much more than this.
There is a group of Republicans, including Dana Rohrabacher, Louis Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, and Michael Burgess who were going to Kabul to meet with the Afghanistan National Front.
This new political party was recently established (2011) by Ahmad Zia Massoud, Mohammad Mohaqiq and Abdul Rashid Dostum, and is generally an updated version of the Northern Alliance which fought against the Soviets and later the Taliban, but did not get the support that the fundamentalists like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar received from the US during the Afghan/Soviet war.
There are many in Afghanistan that think many of these men should be on trial for horrific crimes, but these members of the House and Senate wants to further arm them and does not agree with current US policy in Afghanistan.
As it turns out, Karzai really did not want Dana to come. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both called him to tell him not to go.
While he stayed home, the rest of the motley crew went to Kabul to meet with Karzi's opposition, while the US Embassy tried hard to distance the US from this meeting.
"It is like (the U.S.) Ambassador going to Moscow and meeting with the opposition first," said NBC News correspondent Jim Maceda, who has reported on Afghanistan for more than 20 years. "It is an example of good intentions paving the way to hell."The delegation and ANF reported:
The ANF and the congressional delegation "call for a comprehensive intra-Afghan dialogue immediately with the support of [the] international community that would lead to the implementation of a parliamentary form of democracy with decentralization of executive power to the provinces with elected management."More below the fold....
The statement also called Rohrabacher "a great friend of the Afghan people" and condemned the fact he was "not permitted to enter Afghanistan because of his support for constitutional reform."
Dana Rohrabacher's history in Afghanistan goes back a long way. He first went to Afghanistan back in the 80's before he was in office, claiming to have fought the Soviets alongside the mujahedin.
Dana may have heeded the pleas of the US government to not go to this meeting, but Louis Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann and Michael Burgess met with Massoud, Dostum etc. in Kabul to voice their support for the National Front, their desire to remove Karzai from office and basically change the entire political system in Afghanistan.
And they have been working on this for awhile now.
One problem is, some members of the ANF are thought of as war criminals by many in and out of Afghanistan. But then again, that has not really been a problem when it come to US policy.......this is from a 2004 paper discussing the Afghan Constitution
U.S. leaders show deep sensitivity toward their allies whose proxy troops control the population of Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials refrain from using the term ‘warlord',” the New York Times informs us. 7 Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz told the U.S. Senate in 2002: “I think the basic strategy here is first of all to work with those warlords or regional leaders, whatever you prefer to call them, to encourage good behavior.” U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a staunch Northern Alliance supporter for over a decade, angrily came to the defense of “supposed warlords” who were being criticized at a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing in June 2003:Charlie Wilson must be happy to see these guys pick up where he left off.
“I've heard a lot of negative posturing about...these people who happened to have been the guys who sided with the United States ...Dostam, Atta, Khan...these were the people who defeated the Taliban... Just keep that in mind if you're an American. They came to help us defeat people who slaughtered our own people [September 11, 2001]. And I'm grateful for that. And I'm not about to label them in these pejorative terms [as warlords], especially when the Taliban are still on the border...I would admonish [you] not to go so quickly in getting rid of people who helped us defeat the Taliban.”
Rohrabacher's point enlightens us as to the motives of U.S. officials. Criminals who “sided with the United States ” are to be defended and given power, while those who don't are cast out, persecuted, and recognized as criminals or terrorists.
So here we are with a bunch of (primarily) right wing Republicans calling for pretty much changing the entire political system in Afghanistan, reducing the central government, creating a new constitution, having foreign troops staying if the Taliban comes back, and getting rid of Karzai. All the while giving more power to Karzai's opposition in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile the National security advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, and the US ambassador in Kabul, Ryan Crocker, finalized the Afghan-US long term strategic partnership agreement on Sunday. It awaits signatures from both presidents while we wait to hear what it contains. Yup, they have decided to not release the details to anyone.I'll tell ya, I am at a loss at what the heck we need to do in Afghanistan. While it is obvious that we need to pull out militarily, there is a hell of a lot that is not obvious. There have been so many mistakes in the war in the past decade there are really no good choices in ending it.
Not for us, and certainly not for the Afghans. They will likely end up with either a bunch of highly armed war criminals, or the Taliban running the country for profit and power. Likely they end up fighting each other as they did back in the early 90's for control.
I do not want to see Afghanistan in another civil war. I do not want to see women there lose the rights they have managed to get in the last decade. But I also see no way keeping foreign troops there fighting what is likely to be a never-ending counterinsurgency as a way to have peace for the Afghans. And it is certainly not helping us here in the US either.
My hope today is that we find a way to fund efforts there that will give the Afghans a chance while pulling out. I certainly do not trust Louis Gohmert, Dana Rohrabacher etc. to have the right ideas.