Karzai: Afghanistan Would Side With Pakistan in War With USA

Our good friend Hamid Karzai, contemplating a war between the United States and our good allies Pakistan, says that he would of course fight with Pakistan.

Our good friend Hamid Karzai, contemplating a war between the United States and our good allies Pakistan, says that he would of course fight with Pakistan.

Declan Walsh, The Guardian (“Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in war with US, says Hamid Karzai“):

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he would side with Pakistan in the event of war with the US, in a surprising political twist that is likely to disconcert his western allies. ”If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,” Karzai said in a television interview, placing his hand on his heart and describing Pakistan as a “brother” country.

The offer was widely interpreted as a rhetorical flourish rather than a significant offer of defence co-operation. Despite recent tension between Pakistan and the US, open warfare is a remote possibility.

Karzai, who is scrambling to ensure his political future in advance of the US military drawdown in 2014, needs Pakistani help to bring the Taliban to peace talks. And in the event of any conflict his army, which is wholly dependent on US money and training, would be in no position to back Pakistan.

Nevertheless the interview with Geo, Pakistan’s largest network, was at stark variance with the tone of a visit to the region days earlier by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and David Petraeus, the CIA director.

In Kabul, Clinton bluntly warned Pakistan that the US would act unilaterally if Islamabad failed to crack down on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network inside its North Waziristan sanctuary. Clinton then flew to Islamabad to deliver the message in person during a four-hour meeting with Pakistan’s top generals, calling on them to bring the Haqqanis to the negotiating table, kill the group’s leadership or pave the way for the US to do so.

Karzai’s interview with Geo was aired barely 24 hours after Clinton left the region. Afghanistan owed Pakistan a great debt for sheltering millions of refugees over the past three decades, he said, and he stressed that his foreign policy would not be dictated by any outside power.

“Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan,” he said. “Afghanistan will never betray their brother.”

Karzai has wildly swung away from and then closer to Pakistan over the past 18 months as efforts to draw the Taliban into peace talks have gained momentum.

Walsh frames it correctly, I think: Karzai was saying this for regional consumption and working to counter widely held perceptions that he’s an American stooge. Still, this is yet further evidence of the folly of pretending that we’re somehow going to turn Afghanistan into some sort of modern state or reliable partner. This is, sadly, as good as it’s likely to get any time soon.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:

    Afghanistan should be the next exit, with the “don’t make me come back here” proviso.

  2. sam says:

    ” Karzai was saying this for regional consumption ”

    Is he running in some Chaai Party primary? What’s Pashto for ‘mittens’?

  3. DC Loser says:

    He’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

  4. A voice from another precinct says:

    Once again, we learn what Machiavelli tried to tell people all those years ago. When you bribe someone to be on your side, they seldom stay bought for very long.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @A voice from another precinct:

    There is an old saying from that part of the world:

    “You can’t buy an Afghan, but you sure can rent one.”

  6. Karzai wants to be the Bashar al-Assad of Afghanistan, and he’s reached the point where he no longer needs American security, but our presense is preventing him from cracking down to consolidate his control.

    It’s not suprising then he’s stopped displaying any loyalty to the US. He wants us to leave.