No joke: Obama and Karzai agree to allow the Taliban to open an office in QatarCould anyone other than the press have imagined on 9/12/01 that we'd be allowing the Taliban to open an office for the purposes of reconciliation 10+ years later?
Yes, there is no black and white in GWoT mess, only shades of gray (except when talking about Bush/Cheney). People from both sides of the aisle want out of Afghanistan because it seems pointless. And it IS pointless as long as Pakistan allows safe harbor for the Tollybon (yes, Obama uses this pronunciation in trying to be respectful--contrast that with how Bush 41 pronounced Saddam's name). They know we can't invade, so that's that. In that same vein Bashar Assad is still around killing civilians because he knows we can't invade Syria either. Responsibility to protect has its limitations.
Anyway, in the Friday presser with Karzai the president did what presidents do--tried to put a nice bow on a pile of poop. He talked about how great the surge was and how we're going to end the war responsibly in 2014, not explaining why if the surge was so great we're allowing the Taliban to open an office to deal with reconciliation. This is the same Taliban only recognized by two international governments before 9/11.
Obama laid out a framework for the future but didn't say--and wasn't asked--what happens if the Taliban either 1) splinters the Afghan security forces rendering them ineffective by 2014, 2) hangs around until 2014 then attacks and takes over after our guys have left, or 3) hangs around until 2014 then uses the election process to elect themselves back into a dictatorship. No hypothetical questions will be allowed.
Oddly, after Obama's usual flowery explanation of our great success Hamid Karzai spoke, immediately mentioning the reason they had met--the transfer of prisons. The detention centers will apparently be turned back over to Afghan forces along with the prisoners therein very soon. This was contingent on our troops remaining beyond 2014 with blanket immunity. Nobody bothered to ask whether the prisoners to be transferred might include some high-level Taliban members who will quickly be whisked back to Talibanland as part of this deal. Reportage on the issue is sparse.
Karzai voiced satisfaction over Obama's agreement to turn over control of detention centers to Afghan authorities, a source of dispute between their countries, although the White House released no details of the accord on that subject.Remember when a big deal was made of our capture of Taliban number two, Mullah Baradar? Yeah, nobody else does either. Reports are that Afghanistan has entered into talks with the top prisoner, once heralded as a great capture for Obama. We assume the detention center where he's engaging in discussions isn't one of the ones being transferred over to Karzai. Whatever, UBL is dead and GM is alive. Mullah Omar is still alive and kicking, but we mustn't sweat the small stuff.
So as Obama said at the presser it's important we leave the central front in the war on terror and retreat from the people who attacked us on 9/11 because we need to build roads and bridges in America. OK he didn't exactly put it that way, but again, nobody cares. We're moving on.