Speaking for the Obama administration, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just announced that Afghanistan has been designated a major non-Nato ally of the United States. The status expedites defence cooperation between the two countries and makes it easier for the Afghans to purchase American weapons and equipment.
Fourteen other countries around the world already have major non-Nato ally status, including Australia, Israel, Japan and South Korea. These nations are long-term friends and allies of the United States and at least two, Israel and South Korea (especially Israel) are absolutely essential to U.S. national security.
Afghanistan is not a friend of America, an ally of America or vital to America’s national security and if I were them I’d be very angry indeed because at the very least lumping them together with the Afghan’s implies that they are on the same level with Afghanistan as far as America is concerned….it also means that weapons and equipment which might otherwise go to them will go to the Afghan’s instead and that the Afghan’s may become privy to their military capabilities and secrets. That would be especially worrisome to Israel because Israel’s enemies in the Islamic world will become aware of the information as soon as the Afghans do.
On the surface it seems obvious that granting the status to Afghanistan will help the country to defend and protect itself. In reality it will do no such thing, for two reasons.
First, Nato, i.e. the United States, is planning to hand over responsibility for combat command to the Afghans by mid-2013 and to withdraw completely except for training units in 2014…for psychological, historical, religious, sociological, geographical and geopolitical reasons the Afghans have proven themselves singularly incapable of achieving military success against the Taliban and this new status will do nothing to address the underlying reasons for their failure, reasons which in fact guarantee their failure. They couldn’t do it with the overwhelming physical support of the United States and Nato and they most certainly won’t be able to do it once the United States and Nato leave.
Second, corruption is part of the Afghan personality and way of life and has been for as long as there’s been an Afghan personality and way of life. Its not just that corruption is endemic in the country…its that corruption is part of the countries very fabric, part of its essence, part of its being. Secretary of State Clinton has said accountability measures will be put in place to eliminate fraud, mismanagement and abuse but she’s living in a dream world if she really believes that. Because corruption reigns supreme in Afghanistan there is no doubt at all that much of the new wealth that comes with major non-Nato ally status will disappear into the netherworld, will find itself in Afghan politicians and officials pockets and bank accounts, from President Karzai on down. Corruption is a fact of life in Afghanistan and always has been, regardless of any measures that have been put in place to curb or control it. Whatever good which might come because of the new status will be irredeemably diluted because of corruption and it is folly to think otherwise.
Make no mistake, President Obama did not grant major non-Nato ally status to Afghanistan for military or national security reasons. He did it for political reasons, domestic political reasons not Afghan political reasons. He did it to buy Afghan’s silence before the November American Presidential election, to enhance his chances of getting elected to a second term.
President Karzai has been extremely critical of America and Americans in the past, on many different levels. Further criticism could significantly harm Obama’s chances of being returned to office, chances which are slim enough already. Granting major non-Nato ally status was essentially a bribe to Karzai and his cronies to keep their mouths shut, that’s all. Its the only possible reason for granting the status and is perfectly in keeping with Obama’s personality and modus operandi. Karzai’s too. The fact that it might anger or upset long-term essential allies of the United States and in the end jeopardize their national security and America’s as well is irrelevant. If Karzai and his cronies keep their mouths shut it will help Obama win the election whereas if they don’t it could lose the election for him. Granting non-Nato ally status was Obama’s way of making sure they keep quiet, nothing more.