By Volkhonsky Boris
The high command of the US forces in Afghanistan has been shaken by a new scandal. Major General Fuller who was deputy commander for programs at the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan was dismissed on Friday.
The cause for General Fuller’s dismissal was his interview for an Internet publisher in which he made unflattering remarks about Afghan President Hamid Karzai and called his government “isolated from reality”. Commenting on the dismissal, General John Allen, commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, pointed out that “these unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan”.
Recall that this was not the first dismissal of a high-ranking US general in Afghanistan caused by his public statement for the media rather than his professional merits or mistakes. In 2010 President Barack Obama sacked the then commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal for his public criticism of the US leadership in The Rolling Stone magazine.
Meanwhile, what was new or unforeseen in Peter Fuller’s words? It is an open secret that the current Afghan authorities stay in power only due to the presence of NATO troops, and first of all US troops, in the country. The deeper the US and its allies get stuck in the Afghan adventure, the smaller part of the country’s territory remains under their control. At the beginning of the US operation critics spitefully called Hamid Karzai no other than the mayor of Kabul and now even this name would be an exaggeration of the scale of his genuine power and authority.
It is true that the Afghan leader tries to demonstrate his ostensible independence from time to time, criticizing his western patrons and recently he even allowed himself to declare that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if the country ever went to war with the US. This remark brought about the most furious criticism from General Fuller. However, it is more and more difficult for him to conceal that Afghanistan is ruled by a puppet regime.
Today the Afghan situation is a problem with many unknown givens. It is not clear if the US will keep its promise to withdraw its troops by 2014. This will depend in many ways on the presidential election results in 2012. If a Republican president is elected his hands will be free and he will not have to be as good as his predecessor’s word.
Even if the US troops leave Afghanistan it is obvious that the US will never agree to lose control over such a key section of the frontline in the war for the establishment of US domination over the Greater Middle East, which is Afghanistan. It is important for the US leadership to understand who to put a stake on after 2014. If they choose the incapable current government it will entail new colossal budget expenses and human victims. If they choose internal Afghan forces that can ensure stability it will mean going cap in hand to their sworn enemy, the Taliban, or else to some external power capable of becoming a proxy for the US.
Several years ago Pakistan could have become this proxy but recently relations between Washington and Islamabad have become so tense that the US will never rely on Pakistan. It seems that the recent agreement of strategic partnership between the US and India is opening new opportunities. India’s policy in the region runs along the same lines as the western policy in many ways but the US will never be able to consider India an absolutely safe instrument in its hands.
Speaking frankly, Peter Fuller’s declaration and his superiors’ response to it are evidence of perplexity in the ranks of the US leadership which does not understand what to do next. Hamid Karzai has shown himself as a trustworthy partner and there is no one to replace him. So the US has to continue the policy of the stick and the carrot, now spurring the Afghan leader on and then keeping him on a leash.