Last week, the United Nations fired its number two official in Afghanistan, U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, after he wrote a “scathing” letter accusing the U.N. mission leader of concealing election fraud that benefited Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On ABC’s Good Morning America today, Galbraith stood by his complaint. “The flaw that took place in Afghanistan was preventable,” he said, adding that the U.N. “did not exercise its responsibility” in ensuring a fair election.
Later in the segment, Galbraith argued strenuously against flooding more troops to Afghanistan:
GALBRAITH: In the absence of having a credible Afghan partner…it makes no sense to ramp up. On the other hand we cannot afford to pull out. … At this point, no surge. … [W]e also don’t have unlimited resources and unless those troops can secure an area in a way that then Afghan partners, the government, the Afghan army, the Afghan police can come in and fill in after them, we’re going to be there as an occupying force for a very long time and that to me doesn’t make sense.
Those such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are urging President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan, citing the “lessons of Iraq” (i.e. President Bush’s troop “surge” there in 2007). But Galbraith dismissed McCain’s logic, noting that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not the same:
GALBRAITH: Unfortunately, there is no analogy between what happened in Iraq and what’s going on in Afghanistan. In Iraq in the Sunni areas of the country, the al Qaeda element, the fundamentalists, moved from attacking the Shiites to attacking the tribal sheiks themselves so this was a matter of their self-defense.
In Afghanistan the tribal elders, many of them are supporting the Taliban, they are the Taliban or and this is the more common situation, they are neutral. They see no reason to choose a government which they experience as inexperienced, corrupted and abusing power.
Despite this obvious disconnect, McCain accuses those who disagree with his “surge” call of “playing politics.”