COMMENTARY | The New York Times reports that the United States may have just caught a break, thanks to the people of Afghanistan, who seem to be on the verge of electing a pro American president name Abdullah Abdullah.
“Abdullah Abdullah, a longtime opponent of President Hamid Karzai and an ardent supporter of the United States, emerged Saturday as the clear front-runner in Afghanistan’s presidential election.
“In preliminary results released Saturday, Mr. Abdullah had won 45 percent of the vote, not enough to avoid a runoff with Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist and Karzai adviser, who had won 32 percent. But Afghan government officials say Mr. Abdullah is on the verge of forging alliances with at least two of the runners-up to gain their support, and possibly the presidency, in the next round.”
It would be refreshing to have an Afghan leader to work with who lacks the corruption and erratic behavior of Hamid Karzai. This means that a security agreement will be signed spelling out America’s role in the ongoing war against the Taliban.
It also means that the Obama administration is going to have to rethink its apparent strategy of ending the war in Afghanistan by deliberately losing it. It has thus far intended to declare the Afghan military and security forces fit to fight on their own and leave a tiny force of about 5,000 to do counter terrorism operations. This was easy to justify while Karzai was still in charge, bungling the administration of the country and stealing everything not nailed down.
But now that the United States has an actual ally it can work with, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory should not be an option any longer. The Afghans need a little bit more time to be ready to fight on their own. There definitely needs to be a larger residual force in Afghanistan to finish the job. But will the administration pay heed? Or will it continue to declare victory and get out.