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by
Bridget Johnson

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December 5, 2013 - 4:32 pm

A senior Senate Democrat is challenging President Obama on his handling of the bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, saying that the administration’s consistent lobbying for Hamid Karzai to sign the agreement makes the U.S. come off as looking like it’s in a position subordinate to Kabul.

In a letter to Obama today, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) noted he traveled to Afghanistan for the 12th time in October and was “struck by the significant and positive changes, particularly over the last several years, that are transforming the security and daily lives of the Afghan people.”

“I remain supportive of an enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan based on mutual respect as sovereign nations,” he added. “I am encouraged by the overwhelming endorsement by the Loya Jirga of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and their call for President Karzai to sign the agreement before the end of the year.  Despite the Loya Jirga’s endorsement, President Karzai has unfortunately chosen to raise additional demands as a condition for his signature of the agreement.”

Karzai’s term is good for a few more months as presidential elections are on April 5; candidates include some of his starkest opponents and his brother Quayum. As three of the preconditions to sign the agreement, Karzai wants “transparent” presidential elections, progress in talks with the Taliban, and a pledge by the U.S. to not raid any more homes.

Washington wants the agreement signed now, but Karzai said he’ll get to it after April elections. So Obama recently sent National Security Advisor Susan Rice over to Afghanistan to twist Karzai’s arm.

Karzai has not budged. After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Afghanistan’s defense minister could sign the pact instead of the president, Karzai forbade any of his ministers from signing the agreement.

Levin chided Obama on these tactics, saying “public demands that President Karzai sign the agreement by the end of the year, or the recent suggestion that we could settle for less than an Afghan president approving the agreement, contribute to President Karzai’s mistaken belief that the United States needs Afghanistan more than Afghanistan needs the United States.”

“Instead, we should tell President Karzai that if he chooses not to sign the BSA, we will await the next president of Afghanistan who will be elected in April. The next Afghan president, whoever he is, is also likely to be more reliable than President Karzai, and there would be greater confidence in his sticking with an agreement he has signed,” Levin continued.

“The United States would need to engage in prudent military planning for the possibility that the BSA is not signed until next April, or the possibility that the BSA is not signed at all, in which latter case all U.S. troops would have to be pulled out of Afghanistan,” he said. “NATO is already engaged in planning for all options, including a zero option. We should be clear, however, that such planning is not intended as a threat, but rather is the responsible actions of our civilian and military leaders.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Levin has a point. This agreement is even more necessary for Afghanistan than it is for us. We should not have to beg them for it.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe I read the article wrong, but I think Levin just said that we should do what Karzai wants but we should make it sound like we're doing what he wants because it's our idea. Another brilliant dem foreign policy coup.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Levin misses the point. Obama WANTS America to look diminished. Obama WANTS the US Military to be subservient to a non-US commander. Obama WANTS the world to see a muslim strongman dictating terms to the US. What's wrong with Levin that he can't fall in line like all the other dirtbag Democrat Party politicians?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Afghanistan is not worth the life of a single American soldier or the $billions to be spent over the next years to pull it out of the 10th Century. Pull our troops out now. No more lives or treasure for Afghanistan.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's pretty bad when you are called out by another flaming progressive (and I am trying to be polite with my terminology). Do you think they are starting to figure out obama? They see the end of the Democrat Party and their jobs on the horizon.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would that more of these elected "old-snorts" in both Houses of Congress see the end of their coveted tenure....soonest. We need elected officials with National interests trumping Federal payroll and perks tenure.

With this creature named Obama plus our current Congress plus our State Department we've reached a nadir in all parts of our America.

We need a Citizens' and Voters' Rebellion, but good luck seeing that now with our changed demographic exploiting their entitlement "attitude".

How bad must all of this stuff get before we start our climb up out of this nasty mess we live in just now?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
to change things, we will need a fundamental change in attitude from so many of the low-information liberal voters and the high dollar fat cat liberal supporters - both of which are hard to change, given the left's penchant for exploiting the "emotional vote", which gins up the base

not to mention the GOP RINO's like McCain are screwing things up for the right, caving in and kissing the arses of the left like a bunch of spineless cowards - the biggest threat to the right is the RIGHT itself
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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