The Nature of A Kabuki War Theater

Senior Fellow for the Center for Transatlantic Relations’ Michael Brenner writes about the coming “Kabuki in Kabul” on Huffington Post. He explains that as the “surge” goes on in Afghanistan while the actual government of Afghanistan works towards a political solution with the Taliban, the rules (and the justification) for the war is likely to change.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the measure of success in Afghanistan will begin to shift. It won’t any longer be absolute certainty that the country will be free of terrorists and their possible hosts. It will be “strong expectations that….,” “we are confident that….” As our Special Envoy for AfPak, Richard Holbrooke, declared last year: “we’ll know success when we see it.” A more honest statement would have been, “we’ll know success when we decide to define as success whatever we can manage….and can persuade the American people to see things our way.”

There remains one more clever twist — safeguards against retrogression by keeping a substantial American garrison in the country indefinitely along with our multi-billion dollar airbases from which helicopter gunships and drones — as well as fixed wing aircraft — are launched. It will be matched by our new billion dollar embassy to house those Americans assigned to oversee Afghan politics and civil affairs. The model is Iraq; or, more exactly, Iraq as we had visualized it before Mr. Maliki insisted on Iraqi terms for our continued presence. There, the Maliki government has confined our military to their barracks except on his call and our civilians to the precarious status of part-time consultants.

Is it really possible that Mr. Karzai, the Pashtuns and other stiff-necked Afghans would show themselves equally ungrateful for the blessings that we have bestowed on them? If that shocking scenario were to come to pass, then you can bet your last Yuan that the White House will trumpet our success in instilling among Afghans a newfound sense of self-determination. Yes! That’s what it’s been about from the start; how could you miss what I made perfectly clear?

Read more here.