[The longer we occupy Afghanistan, the more we reveal the true nature of the ravenous American Beast. We are neo-Nazis, plain and simple. The sooner we accept that reality, the sooner we can get on with total world domination. Our corruption of the world extends even into the English language, by semantic distortions of basic definitions of words like "permanent" and "peace." That Clinton bitch can merrily proclaim that we do not desire permanent bases along the strategic Afghan oil corridor, since she is only speaking about the next 25 years, not forever. If there were even one honest government left in the world, they would resist this aggression, whatever the costs--but the whole world has been corrupted with soon to be worthless US dollars, meaning that every govt has a stake in a successful American/Nazi aggression. Imagine that.]
By ROD NORDLAND
KABUL, Afghanistan — First, American officials were talking about July 2011 as the date to begin the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Then, the Americans and their NATO allies began to talk about transition, gradually handing over control of the war to the Afghans until finally pulling out in 2014. Now, however, the talk is all about what happens after 2014.
Afghanistan and the United States are in the midst of negotiating what they are calling a Strategic Partnership Declaration for beyond 2014.
Critics, including many of Afghanistan’s neighbors, call it the Permanent Bases Agreement — or, in a more cynical vein, Great Game 3.0, drawing a comparison with the ill-fated British and Russian rivalry in the region during the 19th and 20th centuries.
It is without doubt a delicate process, and one that comes at a critical time. Afghan officials have expressed concern that the negotiations could scuttle peace talks with the Taliban, now in their early stages, because the insurgents have insisted that foreign forces must leave the country before they will deal. That they are already talking is an indication they are willing to compromise on the timing of a withdrawal — but it is hard to imagine Taliban acceptance of a lasting American presence here.
Formal talks on a long-term agreement began last month under Marc Grossman, the official who has replaced Richard C. Holbrooke, the diplomat who died in December, as the Obama administration’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a delegation visited Kabul under the direction of Frank Ruggiero, a State Department official who ran the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team until last year.
The reaction regionally was immediate. The Iranian interior minister made a rushed visit to Kabul, followed shortly by the national security advisers of India and Russia.
The Russians, though generally supportive of NATO’s role in Afghanistan, were alarmed at the prospect of a long-term Western presence.
“The Russian side supports the development of Afghanistan by its own forces in all areas — security, economic, political — only by its own forces, especially after 2014,” said Stepan Anikeev, a political adviser at the Russian Embassy here. “How is transition possible with these bases?”
American officials have hastened to assure Russia and other neighbors about their intentions after 2014. Mr. Grossman made a visit late last month to Moscow to do so. And officials from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on down have insisted that any presence after 2014 would not mean permanent bases.
It is a “long-term framework for our bilateral cooperation,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech to the Asia Society on Feb. 18.
“In no way should our enduring commitment be misunderstood as a desire by America or our allies to occupy Afghanistan against the will of its people,” Mrs. Clinton said, adding, “We do not seek any permanent American military bases in their country.”
The Russians, however, have complained that any talk of a foreign troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014 violates international understandings, including one made in a joint statement by President Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev on June 24 supporting a neutral status for Afghanistan.
Afghan officials have acknowledged, however, that the talks do countenance some sort of long-term bases after 2014, if only for the purpose of continued training of Afghan troops. “What we’re discussing is a long-term strategic framework agreement,” said Ashraf Ghani, an adviser to President Hamid Karzai who is one of the Afghan negotiators. “The U.S. has many 10- to 25-year-long agreements, a wide range of agreements.”
“The important thing now is that the sense of abandonment that was in the air last year is gone now,” he said.
One person’s long-term base is another’s permanent base, however — and in the region many people took Mrs. Clinton’s assurances as proof that the United States was not leaving, whatever the bases are called.
“A 10- or 20-years agreement can be prolonged at any time,” Mr. Anikeev said. “And we have no guarantee they’re not permanent.”
“The Americans have not been honest about this, even among themselves,” said Mullah Attullah Lodin, deputy chairman of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, which is charged with leading reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. “One says we are not building bases, another says we are building them, and it’s very confusing.”
The big concern, he said, was that if any such agreement were reached, it would make it that much harder to enter into serious peace talks with the Taliban. “That is the first thing the Taliban demand is the withdrawal of foreign troops,” Mullah Lodin said.
Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the national security adviser to Mr. Karzai, disagreed. “Reconciliation and a strategic relationship, they are not contradictory to one another. We have the same goals, peace and stability in Afghanistan, and elimination of sanctuaries and bases for terrorism, that is for the common good.”
Despite such worries, American and Afghan officials are negotiating on an accelerated timetable, with the Americans hoping to come to an agreement by July, when the first withdrawals of some American troops are to start, diplomats say.
“The Afghans are very worried about after 2014,” said a European diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic delicacies. “They’re trying to extract from the West as much as they can now.”
Mr. Ghani said that Afghan officials were hoping to win agreement on the transfer of Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which dispense aid from the United States and NATO countries directly to projects in the Afghan countryside, to Afghan government control. In general, the Afghans want to see more aid money funneled through their government, and they also want to see a reduced presence of the United Nations.
Then there is the issue of how the Afghans will be able to pay for their greatly enlarged police and military, which by some estimates will require $10 billion a year to sustain come 2014 — 10 times the Afghan government’s annual tax revenues.
“The whole mindset is to get as much as possible in the course of the next couple years,” the European diplomat said. “They really understand that they won’t get as much as they used to get, and they’re desperate to get as much as they can.”
One regional diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity for similar reasons, said the Americans were equally concerned to keep a long-term or permanent foothold in Afghanistan for their own interests as well.
“There was a time when the Americans were struggling to find one base in Central Asia,” he said. “Here is a place where they can have all the bases they want, and Afghanistan is a place between two potential nuclear Islamic powers, Iran and Pakistan.”
“There are forces of reaction who are itching to fire the starting gun on Great Game 3.0, and the insurgents will try to exploit this,” said Mark Sedwill, the NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, in a recent speech.
Reaching accord among the diplomats on a Strategic Partnership Declaration will only be a first step. Mr. Karzai has already said any such agreement would have to be put to a nationwide loya jirga, a tribal assembly that acts as referendum on important issues.
“In general, people in Afghanistan are against foreign forces,” Mullah Lodin, the negotiator, said. “I don’t think the loya jirga will ever support foreign forces in the country.”
Mr. Spanta recognized the difficulty. “We have to convince the Afghan people there is something for us in this,” he said.