Whopper of the Week: Gen. Richard Myers

The Joint Chiefs chairman claims not to know that Hamid Karzai wants a bigger international peacekeeping force.

“In the conversations that I’ve been around or that I’ve had personally with Chairman Karzai, his number-one priority has been training the Afghan national army. I’ve never heard him say—or any of his folks ever say—that a priority was to expand the [International Security Assistance Force]. Now I may have missed it somewhere in the fine print, and it’s possible. But I’ve just never heard that requirement.”

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at an April 17 Pentagon news briefing.

Afghanistan’s interim leader asked the United Nations on Wednesday to expand the international force protecting his fledgling government, saying it would signal a global commitment to a country brutalized by 23 years of war and neglect. …

” ‘The extension of the presence of multinational forces in Kabul and expanding their presence to other major cities will signal the ongoing commitment of the international community to peace and security in Afghanistan,’ he said.”

—”Afghan Leader Asks U.N. To Expand Force,” by Edith M. Lederer of the Associated Press, Jan. 30.

“As new factional fighting threatened stability in Afghanistan, the country’s interim leader Hamid Karzai told Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday that Afghans want the British-led security force to expand into towns and cities beyond Kabul. …

” ‘The Afghan people really are asking for this force as a symbol of the commitment of the international community,’ he said at a news conference with Blair. ‘All the delegations that have come to see us from the provinces in Kabul have asked for the increased presence of the security force and have also asked that the force go to the areas where they may be needed.’ “

—”Karzai Asks Blair for Broader Force,” by Beth Gardiner of the Associated Press, Jan. 31.

“Hamid Karzai, the leader of the interim government, has also appealed for an expansion of the international force.

“State Department officials and British Foreign Office officials have said that Mr. Karzai has made a strong case for an expanded force. Richard N. Haass, the State Department’s director of policy planning, said at the World Economic Forum that a force as large of 25,000 might be needed.

“But American and British officials have said in recent days that no nations are willing to contribute the additional troops.”

—”Fielding an Afghan Army Is Months Off, U.S. Finds,” by Michael Gordon in the March 21 New York Times.

“Afghan security officials said today that they had arrested hundreds of political opponents, thwarting a conspiracy to mount a bombing campaign whose targets were the government of Hamid Karzai and the former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah. …

“The arrests follow the decision by the Bush administration last month to oppose the expansion of the 4,500-man international security force now patrolling the streets of Kabul.

“Mr. Karzai had urged Western governments to expand the force to other Afghan cities, saying that without a national army, his government was powerless to fight remnants of the Taliban or quash restless warlords.

“The administration argued that the nations now supplying troops, like Britain and France, had military commitments elsewhere and were not willing to contribute any more. The Bush administration is cautious about the force, for one reason because it has said it does not want to be put in the position of having to evacuate it should fighting make that necessary.”

—”Afghans Round Up Hundreds in Plot Against Leaders,” by Dexter Filkins in the April 4 New York Times.

(Thanks to reader Jonah Blank.)

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Whopper Archive:
April 25, 2002: Whopper of the Week: Donald Rumsfeld
April 18, 2002: George W. Bush  
April 11, 2002: The Rev. Robert J. Banks, archdiocese of Boston
April 5, 2002: George W. Bush  
Mar. 29, 2002: Major League Baseball
Mar. 21, 2002: Billy Graham
Mar. 14, 2002: INS commissioner James W. Ziglar
Mar. 8, 2002: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. steel industry
Feb. 28, 2002: Al Sharpton
Feb. 22, 2002: Olympic skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne
Feb. 14, 2002: Kenneth Lay
Feb. 8, 2002: Enron spokeswoman Peggy Mahoney
Jan. 31, 2002: Monsanto
Jan. 24, 2002: Linda Chavez
Jan. 17, 2002: George W. Bush
Jan. 10, 2002: Simon & Schuster
Jan. 4, 2002: The Associated Press

(Click  here  to access the Whopper Archive for 2001.)