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Obama in Afghanistan. Mission Accomplished. Not

“Tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan,” Obama said Tuesday. We’re still waiting. 

That's the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson on why Americans can't understand what their president can't explain, or maybe it's why Americans can't explain what their president can't understand. In any case, it's about unanswered questions surrounding Barack Obama's surprise media-availability sessions in Afghanistan this week.

This might be at least partly the source of the confusion: "And so 10 years ago the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al-Qaida could never again use this country to launch attacks against us." Thus spake Obama at Baghram. In fact, for the "allies" among the UN_mandated, NATO-led 47-member ISAF military coalition, the whole point has not been to make America safe from al-Qaida. The United States itself has had (or at least once had) rather more Afghanistan-related reasons to involve its soldiers in Afghanistan too. Like building a sovereign and democratic UN member state where there was just a big black hole, for instance. Whatever happened to that, anyway?

But sources of confusion are all over the place in Obama's speech, and in what was not even mentioned in Obama's speech and in the details of the "strategic partnership" his administration concluded with the Karzai government, and in the absence of details. It's a downright headscratcher, in Bloomberg's View. The whole thing "raises more questions than it answers."

That's because it's spin. Obama's all "I killed Bin Laden" all the time at the moment, what with the anniversary and all, and his campaign-stop talking points don't quite add up to a lie, just something more like self-congratulatory election-year revisionism that cannot but leave everybody either confused or bored and understandably uninterested in staying an American course that cannot quite be explained in the first place.   

At the LA Times, Doyle McManus observes: "Obama and his campaign have managed to turn the anniversary of Bin Laden's death into a weeklong celebration of the president-as-tough-guy." AndMcManus doesn't like it, because it's tawdry, cheaply partisan, un-presidential.

"It's morning in America," except it's not. Here's what things looks like in the real world: "The killing of Osama bin Laden last year in Pakistan had little effect on the Afghan war." Proving that point in a most grisly way: At least six people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, officials said, hours after U.S. President Barack Obama left Kabul.

Javid Ahmad of the German Marshall Fund has his eye on something more important than the margin by which Obama beats Mitt Romney in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. What about the Afghan presidential elections? Will Hamid Karzai “pull a Putin?” In other words, could Karzai attempt to hold power by a proxy? Ahmad: "Several names are in play, including Qayum Karzai, the president’s multimillionaire older brother, influential in Afghan politics and security. However, Persident Karzai's  personal favorite may be Farooq Wardak, the current minister of education." Crikey. Twice. 

The so-called "Northern Alliance," an obsolete term that nevertheless serves as a euphemism for the democratic leadership of Aghanistan's multiethnic non-Pashtun majority, would be up in arms, Ahmad sensibly predicts. And this raises the more disturbing of all questions about American intentions.

If the NATO countries persist in ignoring the right of Afghans to fully free and fair elections - an objective that isn't exactly a central feature of the Obama-Karzai pact - and if the elections get rigged again, or worse, it is quite likely that Afghan democrats will re-arm and regroup under the fervently anti-Taliban forces everybody still likes to call the Northern Alliance. 

 If that were to happen, which side would an Obama administration be on?

Terry Glavin is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist


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