Slaughter of Afghans leaves U.S. in bind
The shooting of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier, presents many problems for the United States to tackle.
The strategic picture (in Afghanistan) gets completely lost in the midst of something like this that overshadows everything else, and it shifts the entire debate.
The Afghans and the U.S. are busy right now negotiating a strategic agreement that is meant to be presented at a NATO summit in Chicago in May. The big stopping point for that has been control of the detention facility in Bagram Air Base, and also night raids. They've just reached an agreement on the detention facility. Night raids remain an issue of contention.
And now, the Afghans are going to raise the issue of jurisdiction - who has jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers who commit a crime on their soil. They ceded jurisdiction in the current Status of Forces agreement. The next Status of Forces Agreement has yet to be negotiated. This issue, (which) was off the table, will now probably be front-and-center.
The United States won't change its position on that. They demonstrated that in Iraq. It was what ended the cooperation between the Iraqis and the U.S. And if the Afghans hold their ground and insist on it, it will be what ends cooperation in Afghanistan as well.
As for revenge Afghans might seek, this is "on a completely different scale" than the Afghan fury after the recent Quran burnings by U.S. forces. (This time), we're talking about women and children who were sleeping in their homes who were murdered. That is, even for rational, reasonable Afghans who work closely with the United States (and) who would be the kind of bridge between the two nations in a situation like this, there are fewer and fewer of those people left standing, because this is so horrific.
And the Taliban, of course, know how to exploit this kind of situation to their advantage - even when the U.S. isn't guilty of wrongdoing. It feeds their narrative on the country and does their job for them, really. So, it won't be hard to whip Afghans into a frenzy over this, and the Taliban will do everything it can to do so.
In the wake of the Quran burnings, there were six U.S. soldiers murdered in cold blood by Afghans they were working with or Afghans posing as people they were working with. There were mass protests on the doorsteps of U.S. bases. And for a lot of those soldiers out there, that's a terrifying thing. There is nothing more terrifying than a mob that (wants) your blood. And that will be raising the tension significantly on the ground.
To see the entire interview of Logan by "CBS This Morning" co-hosts Charlie Rose and Gayle King, click on the video in the player above.
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