"... if we have a follow-on force of any sort past 2014, it’s got to be at the invitation of the Afghan government and they have to feel comfortable with it. I will say — and I’ve said to President Karzai — that we have arrangements like this with countries all around the world, and nowhere do we have any kind of security agreement with a country without immunity for our troops. That’s how I, as Commander-in-Chief, can make sure that our folks are protected in carrying out very difficult missions. And so I think President Karzai understands that. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of the negotiations that are still remaining on the bilateral security agreement, but I think it’s fair to say that, from my perspective at least, it will not be possible for us to have any kind of U.S. troop presence post-2014 without assurances that our men and women who are operating there are in some way subject to the jurisdiction of another country. " Barack Obama
"We understand that the issue of immunity is of very specific importance for the United States, as was for us the issue of sovereignty and detentions and the continued presence of international forces in Afghan villages and the very conduct of the war itself. With those issues resolved, as we did today, part of it — the rest was done earlier — I can go to the Afghan people and argue for immunity for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in a way that Afghan sovereignty will not be compromised, in a way that Afghan law will not be compromised, in a way that the provisions that we arrive at through our talks will give the United States the satisfaction of what it seeks and will also provide the Afghan people the benefits that they are seeking through this partnership and the subsequent agreement. " Hamid Karzai
What's the old Kipling "saw" about trying to "hustle the East?" IMO, we "wuz" robbed.
What happened in this meeting in Washington was that Karzai and the Afghans got everything they wanted and promised nothing that they cannot walk away from once they get through "picking our pocket" in slow motion between now and the end of 2014.
Karzai got any number of substantial concessions towards the notion of Afghan "sovereignty."
The most important of these was the assumption of control and security responsibility for the whole country's territory by the Afghan forces. Are these forces ready and capable to do that? They probably are not is the correct answer. Will they ever be ready? Maybe not. 1 - Afghanistan is unlikely to ever have enough income to pay for the forces we have created for them. Where will they get their money if not from us, rare earths and oriental carpets? 2 - The apparent disparity between ethnic "nations" in Afghanistan and the composition of the "Afghan" Army is unpromising as a basis for the integrity of the state.
Another American concession was the transfer of prisons and prisoners to Afghan government control. This means that after the date of that change, US forces will be unable to detain hostiles encountered in the field in combat. Remember, POTUS reminded us that those soldiers left in Afghanistan will still be in harm's way.
In the same way, the declaration that NATO (US) troops will be barred from entry into Afghan villages after the turn-over date this spring, means that we will not in any real sense control Afghanistan after this change. We will be confined to our bases, offering assistance to the Afghans for them to accept or reject.
At the same time Karzai said that there were some things that the Afghan Army wanted to keep receiving from the US. 1- Intelligence - What? The Afghans cannot collect information against targets lodged within their own peoples? 2 - Artillery - What? They want a lot of artillery for the purpose of fighting a counter-guerrilla war in their own country? 3 - Aircraft, helicopters, etc. They can't afford them. They will never be able to maintain them without an "army" of foreign contractors paid for with US money.
What did the US get in return? Permission to leave the classroom?
Karzai's statement about extra-territorial legal immunity for our soldiers is meaningless. He says that based on our concessions to Afghan sovereignty he can "argue" for immunity for American troops in a way that does not compromise Afghan sovereignty or law. All he promises is to "argue" and that argument is to be for an "immunity' that does not compromise anything important to the Afghans. There are numerous bodies in Afghan "society" that can refuse his supposed argument. The parliament, or a "loyah jurga," or mass opinion expressed in the streets, and most significantly in a general election before the end of 2014. The immunity issue will surely be a major feature of that election after which Karzai will not be head of state and the new government will be free to repudiate whatever commitments Karzai might have made.
Yup, we "wuz" robbed. You have to wonder if POTUS believes tht what he said yesterday is actually true. pl