Americans are faced with an impossible task. They do not wish to be seen to be installing a Talib Emirate in Kabul. If identified with such action they may never look like harbingers of democracy, part of their manifest destiny.
The fragility of the agreement is transparent in the pulls and counter pulls that have obviously gone into the headline. There is unbridgeable distance on the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s role, for instance. The Taliban will not talk to Ghani whom they describe quite brazenly as a US “toady”.
Are the Americans likely to walk away simply because they are exasperated? After having spent a trillion dollars, losing thousands of lives, losing face – so soon after their reversal in Syria – are they really contemplating withdrawal? Will the bosses of UNOCAL suck their thumbs now? Will the priceless poppy fields of Helmand, the oil in the North, the unexplored mineral wealth now become a Russian asset?
New Delhi is extremely skeptical of the US placing its eggs in the Taliban basket and leaving the basket in Pakistani care. This incidentally is not a new US approach.
A steady stream of US policy makers have been meeting officials and opinions makers in New Delhi with variations on the same theme. They told New Delhi that the Afghan Taliban do not trust Pakistan, specifically because the ISI has been manipulating them for decades.
The negative media focus on Syria in recent months has erased from minds the continuing reality: the country is among the few remaining parts of the Arab world where elegant, gracious living is still possible.
Numbers of US troops departing are quite as unpredictable as the shifting deadlines for the date of their departure. First, Americans were to leave by 2011.