Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went to Afghanistan this week to sit down for a “long lunch” with President Hamid Karzai and discuss the bilateral security agreement he has refused to sign to the disappointment of the Obama administration.
“We don’t’ want to see a repeat of Iraq, where we left completely, seeing Iraq descend into chaos…we don’t want that to happen here,” McCain told Afghanistan’s Tolo News, adding that he thought progress was made and Karzai might sign it soon.
Karzai has insisted that signing of the agreement can wait until after April presidential elections, while Washington wants the pact inked now. Karzai is ineligible to run for another term.
“There is a time sensitivity here; the longer we wait on the BSA, the more it benefits the Taliban, the more benefit it is to the enemies of democracy and the Afghan people in my view,” McCain said. “I think it’s very important that our differences be resolved and the BSA be signed as soon as possible, and I mean this month.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) chided President Obama last month on his tactics to try to get Karzai to sign the agreement, 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.”
Those tactics have included sending National Security Advisor Susan Rice to Kabul to beg Karzai.
Graham pledged that signing the BSA would mean “the end of the Taliban.”
“The Taliban is an enemy to mankind,” he said. “The Taliban is an enemy to all things that are human, blowing up statues of other peoples’ religion, taking women to soccer stadiums and killing them for no reason at all, denying young women the chance to grow up and be educated…the Taliban are not only the enemy of the United States and the Afghan people, but humankind.”
“There is a lot America can do to help the Afghan Army and Police and the Afghan people, and I want to make sure that the Taliban never come back to Afghanistan… If we do not get this agreement signed in next 30 days, Afghanistan can become a new Iraq.”
On the meeting with Karzai, McCain said, “We have had disagreements over the years and we have had spirited discussions, but I have always appreciated his leadership, his commitment to the people.”
“I think President Kazai is brave and is an Afghan patriot…he has a chance to do something for the people of Afghanistan they have never known in their history – provide stability in a future of partnerships,” Graham said. “We have a chance to create a relationship between Afghanistan and the American people that is mutually beneficial, and President Karzai has a chance to be one of the most historic figures in the history of this country by solidifying this relationship.”
“I hope and pray that when they write the history of Afghanistan, they will say that it was President Karzai who took Afghanistan into the future and created relationship between the Afghan people and the international community that secured their future forever.”