The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

March 11, 2013

Costs that Hamid Karzai cannot measure

In the past dozen years, the United States has paid a heavy price in Afghanistan and that is only partly about actual money. While the war in Afghanistan has cost the United States more than $1.2 trillion, there is a more profound price.

That cost has come in the form of 2,181 soldiers killed since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Those are fathers, sons, brothers, daughters and sisters who never returned home. Some never saw their children born, will never get to walk a daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

Those are costs Hamid Karzai cannot measure.

For the better part of a decade now, the United States has continually stuck its neck out to help Karzai and his people fight off the Taliban and stabilize his government.

Yet over the weekend, Karzai said the United States was partly responsible for a pair of Taliban bombings that killed nearly 20 people. Karzai went so far as to say the bombs were in "service to America."

That is a difficult pill to swallow. More than 2,100 Americans have not returned home while training Afghani troops and police, feeding the Afghani people and attempting to bring peace to a region that has been unstable for generations.

This will not sit well with the United States, no should it. "We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years, to even think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," said U.S. and NATO forces commander Gen. Joseph Dunford.

It is difficult to determine just what Karzai's motives are. He cannot run for president again, so the move is not for his direct political benefit. He is likely trying to put pressure on the United States, which has slowly been withdrawing troops over the past year, to keep troops in the country beyond the planned 2014 withdrawal.

Newly appointed Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel was straight and to the point: "The fact is any prospect for peace … has to be led by the Afghans."

That means no more training wheels. The United States has spent too much money and lost too many precious lives in a nation where its leader has no appreciation for our sacrifices.

The sooner we deliver the Afghans to their own fate, the better.

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