Neocon Zalmay Khalilzad Knows His Side is Losing on Afghanistan

by | Jul 26, 2013

photo: Gage Skidmore

Zalmay Khalilzad is a neocon operative. I remember the time just after the first Gulf War when he was my guest for lunch at the Army and Navy Club in Washington. He was then some sort of minor sub-cabinet political appointee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He had authored a draft strategy statement for the Department of Defense that was a preview of the neocon vision of imperial expansion and sphere of influence policy that became dominant in the Bush 43 Administration.

This draft statement had been discarded when the Army General Staff leaked it to the press to kill it. He was still smarting over that at the time of our lunch. I argued with him over the policy he had advocated. He became enraged and shouted at me that “you people don’t understand the way to use power! You have a responsibility to spread freedom and American power!”

I found that amusing since he never served a day in his life except as a consultant to State and Defense before his neocon pals had him appointed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I asked him what he meant by “you people.” He said he meant most Americans. He is an Afghan by birth. The members in the Army and Navy club dining room were not amused.

See here the main quote from an article he wrote on Afghanistan in the Washington Post today:

“There is a risk that the United States and Afghanistan will not reach a deal on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. Both sides want to negotiate a bilateral security agreement. But President Obama, frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and determined to end the U.S. role in Afghanistan next year, has given Kabul until October either to conclude a deal or face unspecified unilateral actions by Washington. Recent leaks indicate that Obama is contemplating a total drawdown of U.S., and thus international, forces. My discussions with officials in Washington and Afghanistan have left me thinking that an agreement is unlikely to be signed by October. Mistrust at the leadership level, different threat perceptions and Obama’s arbitrary but politically potent deadline for ending the war all pose significant obstacles.”

He now perceives that the neocon dream is fading as reality intrudes. There will be no Status of Forces Agreement. Khalilzad’s dream will soon be ended.

Reprinted by permission.


  • Col. W. Patrick Lang

    Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years.

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