U.S. general in Afghanistan relieved after criticizing Karzai
REPORTING FROM ISLAMABAD — A U.S. general responsible for training Afghan security forces has been relieved of his duties for making inappropriate remarks about Afghan President Hamid Karzai and saying the leaders of the war-battered country are “isolated from reality.”
Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, made the comments in an interview posted on the Politico website Thursday. A day later, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, released a statement saying Fuller had been relieved of his assignment.
“These unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan,” Allen said in the statement.
Fuller made the remarks while he was in Washington for a conference. In the interview, Fuller lashed out at recent comments Karzai made that Afghanistan would stand by Pakistan if Pakistan were ever attacked by the U.S. Karzai’s aides later claimed the Afghan leader’s remarks were misinterpreted.
Politico quoted Fuller as calling Karzai’s comments “erratic,” adding, “Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I really don’t care?’…When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that’s more articulate in public.”
Fuller also accused Afghan leaders of being oblivious to America’s current economic plight. He said he recently told a group of Afghan generals, “You guys are isolated from reality. The reality is, the world economy is having some significant hiccups. The U.S. is in this (too). If you’re in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood. They don’t understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security.”
Criticizing what he claims were unreasonable demands made by Afghan leaders for assistance, Fuller added, “You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish. We’re giving them fish, while they’re learning, and they want more fish! (They say,) ‘I like swordfish, how come you’re giving me cod?’ Guess what, Cod’s on the menu today.”
In announcing Fuller’s ouster, Allen said “The Afghan people are an honorable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission—bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.”
A native of Andover, Mass., Fuller has been in the U.S. military for more than 30 years. It was not known whether Fuller would be reassigned.
Photo: U.S. Army Major General Peter Fuller posing in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. Credit: Getty Images