Let's get out of Afghanistan and give Karzai his sovereignty

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After months of delay, the U.S. agreed to hand over control of a U.S.-controlled prison near the Bagram Air Base. The status of the detention facility has been one of the many impasses between new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Karzai.

For weeks prior to the hand-over of power, Karzai bashed American leadership, and labeled our failure to go through with the transfer a “serious breach” in the deal to create a long-term joint security agreement. Even after we agreed to hand over the prison to Afghan forces, Karzai continued his verbal assault, insinuating that the U.S. and the Taliban were negotiating how to undermine Afghan security.

The Obama administration has even gone so far as to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Afghanistan in an effort to patch up relations with Karzai.

Since October 2010, we’ve spent over $300 billion in the effort to stabilize and secure Afghanistan. Even after 2014, when U.S. troops finally leave Afghanistan, it is estimated that it will still cost us $4 billion a year in aid to help run this crooked government. For Karzai to question our integrity and our intentions is outlandish.

After the American government pulls out of Afghanistan in December 2014, I believe that the propped-up government is going to collapse and be overrun by Taliban forces once again.

The time to end the war in Afghanistan is now. The $4 billion in aid — taxpayer money — that we spend, only to have this government continue its corruption, could be used to secure America’s borders or reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

For years, Karzai has claimed that he has been fighting for his country’s sovereignty. It’s time for us to grant him his wish. Enough is enough, and it’s time we departed. Just think of how many taxpayer dollars and American lives could be saved.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.

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