Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Karzai Calls The Shots in U.S. Security Deal

Instead of pulling out of Afghanistan, Karzai has successfully played the Obama administration, which is totally focused on re-election, into a preposterous security deal which perpetuates his regime and lines his pockets with U.S. taxpayer money.

In the months leading up to this desperate deal, we had to listen to President Karzai demand the end to drone flights, allowing prosecution of U.S. military personnel in Afghan courts for crimes against civilians, and prior notice of military actions against Taliban targets.  It was a well laid out plan which took the PR initiative and put the U.S. on the defensive.  Karzai understood his Presidential counterpart's re-election needs all too well.  Now, billions more in taxpayer dollars will flow to a regime of a failed state which no amount of foreign nation building can resuscitate. Meanwhile, there is no agenda for Pakistan, without which there can be no long run solution for Afghanistan anyway.

A Christian Science Monitor poll shows Americans disapprove of this deal by 66% compared to a 33% approval rating.

Here is an excerpt from a current story from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

"The Taliban and criminal gangs, old and new warlords, and tribal leaders rule vast parts of the country. The authority of the government, many of whose ministers are considered corrupt, barely extends beyond its offices in Kabul. In order to survive, the Karzai government has to ignore or accommodate all those forces working to undermine it, from the Taliban to the warlords. This has even empowered them, occasionally forcing Karzai to appoint them as governors or to acknowledge their local authority.

Based on these criteria, Afghanistan is a failed state. For years, it has been, and still is, one of the world's top 10 failed states, along with Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and others.In an effort to secure his government's survival, Karzai invited "non terrorist Taliban" to participate in the government. He even proposed negotiations to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, saying he would guarantee Omar's safety if he would accept the authority of the government. Omar's group rejected that proposal, saying that it is Karzai himself, and not the Taliban leader, who should be concerned about his safety.

Longing for security and an improvement in their lives, Afghans have been increasingly turning their backs on a government that has failed to deliver either. A recent ABC/BBC/ARD poll indicated that support among Afghans for the Karzai government and U.S. efforts has dropped by half since 2005. The biggest danger is that, as in 1996 after four years of chaotic mujahedin rule, people will have no choice but to turn to the Taliban to impose countrywide "security" within the framework of an archaic and totally repressive system.

Reports that Karzai's brother Ahmad Wali, head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, has been involved in drug trafficking have caused widespread public disappointment. A second Karzai brother has taken over Afghanistan's only concrete factory in Pul-i Khumri and acquired by dubious means ownership rights to vast state lands. A third brother, Jalil Karzai, is said to have simply driven away after a recent car crash in Kabul involving his car and a taxi that killed five people.

Escalating violence and widespread corruption fueled a surge in opium poppy cultivation in 2006 and 2007, pushing opium output to an all-time high. Despite efforts by the Afghan government and their U.S.partners, Afghanistan is now the source of more than 90 percent of the world's illegal opium."

The writers of this story strive to be optimistic, saying that forty percent of the population believe that the country is moving in the "right direction."  The math isn't complicated: sixty percent of the population do not believe it. 

There's no doubt that we have to stay engaged with the Afghan people, but a military vanguard with no winnable mission isn't the answer.  Funding a cynical, self-serving government that is beholden to militant extremists like the Haqqani Network for survival, is not the answer either.

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