News today that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided to handpick members of the election oversight commission, jettisoning participation by United Nations monitors, signals that, whenever the United States extricates itself from that war, the situation will go right back to the feudal mess it has been.
And it’s not just a question of controlling voting irregularities. It’s rampant thuggery. Civilian truckers hauling supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan to fight insurgents are forced to pay protection money to Afghan warlords to allow their safe passage. A Congressman who recently made a repeat visit to the region said there is little difference between those warlords and the corrupt players inside the government.
Hamid Karzai’s own brother is said to be heavily involved in the opium trade. It was even alleged in the New York Times that, at the same time, he has been getting payments from the CIA for some eight years. Remember, it is money from the opium trade that helps to finance the Taliban. The same dirty money greases the palms of corrupt government officials.
The corruption and our willingness to fight side by side with a tainted government was an issue when President Obama was deciding on committing thousands more American soldiers to a surge last December. He said that denying Al Qaeda a safe haven was essential to our own security. To do this, we’d have to help the Afghan government halt the Taliban insurgency.
But whom are we in bed with? There is no evidence that the corruption issue, which undermines the confidence of ordinary Afghanis in their government, is being dealt with in any meaningful way.
President Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was linked to the production of tens of thousands of phony ballots in last fall’s election in Afghanistan.
You get the picture. The very underpinnings of government are manipulated by the corrupt actions of those in power. Yesterday’s latest move by President Karzai is just the icing on the cake. Does anyone really believe that, if the United States succeeds in extricating itself by the end of June 2011, history will be anything but circular?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.