This relationship virtually assures that the US will be staying in the country past its 2014 “pullout” one way or another, no matter what rhetoric is deployed or smokescreens used to obscure the ongoing NATO presence in the country.
For those who actually believe the US government when they say they'll be pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014, the Obama administration just made a strange ultimatum to Afghan President Karzai: sign the US-Afghan security agreement extension or we'll actually pull out in 2014. You see, the plan was never to actually leave Afghanistan at the end of next year. Neither the US government or the Afghan “government” (if you can really call it that) have ever wanted that.
For the Afghan warlords pretending to speak for the Afghan people, the deal is simple: US-NATO presence equals payola. Karzai himself is the greatest example of this. After it was revealed that his drug-dealing brother was on the CIA payroll (before being shot in a highly suspicious assassination that was quickly brushed off the news agenda), Karzai admitted earlier this year that...
...the CIA had been personally delivering him “shopping bags full of money” every month for over 10 years, and that they had assured him that the payments would continue as long as needed to maintain “access” to their bought-and-paid for puppet president. Karzai himself also confessed that the money was used to pay off the tribal warlords who exist in a tenuous state of peace with the Afghan government and who are really in charge of the day to day running of much of the country.
On the American side, the rewards are also cut and dry. Firstly, Afghanistan is a prime piece of real estate in central Asia that affords NATO military access to the heart of a region that they are desperately seeking to dominate, including a convenient base of operations for keeping tabs on (i.e. illegally drone bombing) Pakistan, and for preparing the long-sought-after Iranian bombing/invasion. It also provides untold billions in completely liquid drug money from the record amounts of opium that is being shipped out (via NATO bases) every year. It is also sitting on a resource gold mine (figuratively speaking) with an internal Pentagon memo calling the country the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” and noting that its huge iron, gold, cobalt, copper, and lithium veins represent about $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits.
This relationship virtually assures that the US will be staying in the country past its 2014 “pullout” one way or another, no matter what rhetoric is deployed or smokescreens used to obscure the ongoing NATO presence in the country. A case in point is the recent US announcement that it will be moving its Manas Air Base – a key transport facility in Kyrgyzstan for supplying the Afghan effort – to Romania. The Russians aren't buying it for a second. They argue that the Pentagon is going to be continuing to use Manas as a hub under the guise of a Turkish-operated “civilian” transportation facility in the area. They know that the real dagger of the Afghan war effort is aimed at them in the so-called 'New Great Game' for control of Central Asia, right on the Russian/Chinese/Iranian doorstep, and the US and NATO aren't going to be giving up their strategic access to the region anytime soon.
Thus the Obama administration's latest ultimatum to Karzai, delivered this week via National Security Advisor Susan Rice: 'give us the carte blanche for continued access to your country or we'll pull out our troops and take our annual $4 billion military aid package with us.' It's not a tough decision for Karzai to make; he'll sign, and the US will stay. The only question is what that post-2014 force will look like and how it will be sold to the public.