Afghan Politics: Let’s Be Real April 29, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: afghanistan constitution, afghanistan corruption, afghanistan democracy, afghanistan drugs, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan opium, Afghanistan War, afghanistan warlords, islamic fundamentalists, Karzai, Karzai government, mujahideen, murray dobbin, obama administration, Petraeus, roger hollander, Taliban, unocal
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Afghanistan president Karzai: ‘blowback’ puppet?
How US promoted corruption while locking out true democracy.
Published: April 22, 2009
The outpouring of Western anger and shock earlier this month over a new Afghan law that legalizes marital rape and confines women to their homes demonstrates how out of touch Western countries are with the monster they have created in that benighted country.
Of course Hamid Karzai would support such a law. He wants to be re-elected president in August and to do so he must support his base: Islamic fundamentalists. Both sides of the conflict are fundamentalist Islamic. There is nothing else.
Indeed, while outrage caused Karzai to say he’d withdraw the law, many doubt he’ll follow through.
Virtually everything that now plagues Afghanistan is “blowback” — the CIA term for unintended consequences of previous policies — from the U.S.-sponsored war against the Soviets in the 1990s. So far, there’s no sign the Obama administration, or Stephen Harper’s, gets that. Just yesterday, U.S. Central Command leader Gen. David Petraeus warned of “tough months ahead” as the U.S. ramps up its fight in Afghanistan, explaining (as if bad luck out of the blue) that the resurging Taliban insurgency is fueled by profits from the global illegal narcotics trade.
The supposed bulwark against them? A Karzai government that is corrupt because it could not possibly have been anything else. Karzai, after all, was handpicked by the U.S. to give a democratic sheen to their occupation, then assisted in his effort to get elected president. But now that the U.S. has given up completely on creating a Western-style democracy, Karzai has become the problem, not the solution. It’s hard to get a reliable puppet these days. Once you put one in place, he wants to stay.
The hell that ideology built
The neo-con geniuses behind the invasion of Afghanistan were strong on ideology but utterly ignorant when it came to history and Afghan political culture. They really thought it would be easy and that’s why Karzai seemed a good bet. A former consultant for U.S. oil giant Unocal, Karzai was part of the late 1990s negotiations between the Taliban and Unocal for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. The U.S. was negotiating with the Taliban until four months before 9-11. They thought a quick victory would put the pipeline back on the agenda.
Karzai, however, had literally no political base amongst the competing tribes in the country. And it is the tribes that fill the “civil society” vacuum in Afghanistan. His support was American money and military force, and Afghan opium producers. Now that the Americans want him out, political support comes almost exclusively from the warlords and opium producers.
But the root of corruption in Afghanistan is not Hamid Karzai. It is the determination of the U.S. to ensure that no future elected government will take democratic governance seriously. While fighting their so-called ”war on terror” and its Islamic fundamentalist ideology, the Americans are even more determined to stop the establishment of a government that would stand for the national interests of the country. That sort of government was entrenched in the articles of the secular constitution established in 1964.
But the U.S. changed that constitution soon after the invasion, and it now states that Islam is supreme: no laws can violate “the sacred religion of Islam.” The new Political Parties Law also states that parties cannot pursue policies that are “contrary to Islam,” which meant that many secular parties were effectively excluded from the 2005 parliamentary elections.
The results were predictable: 133 of the 249 members elected to the House of the People had fought in the vicious internecine Mujahideen war which virtually destroyed Kabul, and fostered the creation of the Taliban. According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, “eighty per cent of winning candidates in the provinces and more than 60 per cent in… Kabul have links to armed groups.”
Of course it is also the case that the U.S. sponsored Mujahideen war against the Soviets eliminated thousands of former communist government officials. Communist they may have been but they were also secularists and established a functioning national government with actual social programs, education budgets, human rights (including women’s rights) and health care, as well as a professional army. Many of the secular figures involved ended up dead in the cold war fury unleashed by the U.S. through its proxy fanatics. Civil society was effectively destroyed. Any state that followed would, by definition, be radical Islamic.
Given the results of the 2005 election, the absence of any significant secular culture to draw on, and the need for some semblance of security, Karzai ended up appointing some of the most murderous warlords in the country to senior government posts. One of them was the delightfully named “Butcher of the North,” Abdul Rashid Dostum, appointed to the post of army chief of staff. To call this a government at all is misleading.
Daan Everts, the former NATO special representative in Afghanistan, believes that the U.S. consciously sabotaged genuinely democratic government. The result, says Everts, “has been an extremely chaotic parliament. There are 248 talking heads with very little discipline and little organized deliberations that are meant to produce legislation which the country so badly needs. We deliberately did this.”
When you set up government to fail, you get corruption because government is then seen as simply a way of accumulating personal wealth and power. The notion that 21,000 more U.S. troops, backed by social workers, community developers and police trainers, are going to change things is delusional. Corruption and Islamic authoritarianism are now effectively enshrined in the constitution and the culture, courtesy of U.S. foreign policy.
New Afghan Plan? Replace Bush Puppet w/ Obama Puppet March 23, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: afghanistan corruption, afghanistan government, afghanistan occupation, afghanistan puppet, afghnaistan war, bush puppet, ewen macaskill, holbrooke, julian borger, kabul government, Karzai, karzai corruption, Karzai government, obama puppet, president obama, roger hollander
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Published on Monday, March 23, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
US Will Appoint Afghan ‘Prime Minister’ to Bypass Hamid Karzai
White House plans new executive role to challenge corrupt government in Kabul
The US and its European allies are preparing to plant a high-profile figure in the heart of the Kabul government in a direct challenge to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the Guardian has learned.
The creation of a new chief executive or prime ministerial role is aimed at bypassing Karzai. In a further dilution of his power, it is proposed that money be diverted from the Kabul government to the provinces. Many US and European officials have become disillusioned with the extent of the corruption and incompetence in the Karzai government, but most now believe there are no credible alternatives, and predict the Afghan president will win re-election in August.A revised role for Karzai has emerged from the White House review of Afghanistan and Pakistan ordered by Barack Obama when he became president. It isto be unveiled at a special conference on Afghanistan at The Hague on March 31.
As well as watering down Karzai’s personal authority by installing a senior official at the president’s side capable of playing a more efficient executive role, the US and Europeans are seeking to channel resources to the provinces rather than to central government in Kabul.
A diplomat with knowledge of the review said: “Karzai is not delivering. If we are going to support his government, it has to be run properly to ensure the levels of corruption decrease, not increase. The levels of corruption are frightening.”
Another diplomat said alternatives to Karzai had been explored and discarded: “No one could be sure that someone else would not turn out to be 10 times worse. It is not a great position.”
The idea of a more dependable figure working alongside Karzai is one of the proposals to emerge from the White House review, completed last week. Obama, locked away at the presidental retreat Camp David, was due to make a final decision this weekend.
Obama is expected to focus in public on overall strategy rather than the details, and, given its sensitivity, to skate over Karzai’s new role. The main recommendation is for the Afghanistan objectives to be scaled back, and for Obama to sell the war to the US public as one to ensure the country cannot again be a base for al-Qaida and the Taliban, rather than the more ambitious aim of the Bush administration of trying to create a European-style democracy in Central Asia.
Other recommendations include: increasing the number of Afghan troops from 65,000 to 230,000 as well as expanding the 80,000-strong police force; sending more US and European civilians to build up Afghanistan’s infrastructure; and increased aid to Pakistan as part of a policy of trying to persuade it to tackle al-Qaida and Taliban elements.
The proposal for an alternative chief executive, which originated with the US, is backed by Europeans. “There needs to be a deconcentration of power,” said one senior European official. “We need someone next to Karzai, a sort of chief executive, who can get things done, who will be reliable for us and accountable to the Afghan people.”
Money and power will flow less to the ministries in Kabul and far more to the officials who run Afghanistan outside the capital – the 34 provincial governors and 396 district governors. “The point on which we insist is that the time is now for a new division of responsibilities, between central power and local power,” the senior European official said.
No names have emerged for the new role but the US holds in high regard the reformist interior minister appointed in October, Mohammed Hanif Atmar.
The risk for the US is that the imposition of a technocrat alongside Karzai would be viewed as colonialism, even though that figure would be an Afghan. Karzai declared his intention last week to resist a dilution of his power. Last week he accused an unnamed foreign government of trying to weaken central government in Kabul.
“That is not their job,” the Afghan president said. “Afghanistan will never be a puppet state.”
The UK government has since 2007 advocated dropping plans to turn Afghanistan into a model, European-style state.
Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who will implement the new policy, said it would represent a “vastly restructured effort”. At the weekend in Brussels, he was scathing about the Bush administration’s conduct of the counter-insurgency. “The failures in the civilian side … are so enormous we can at least hope that if we get our act together … we can do a lot better,” he said.
Rank Afghan Injustice October 25, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: Afghanistan and Taliban, Afghanistan Injustice, Afghanistan Karzai corruption, Afghanistan politics, Afghanistan War, Canada and Afghanistan, cost of Afghanistan war, Harper agenda, Harper and military spending, Harper Bush, Harper defence budget spending, Karzai government, roger hollander
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The final sentence of this editorial is: “Canada’s troops are not fighting and dying in Afghanistan to make the place safe for religious zealots who hold human life in low regard.” Unfortunately this is exactly what Canadian troops are fighting and dying for (not to mention the terrorization of the civilian population and the destruction of what is left of the infrastructure). The vast majority of Canadians want our troops OUT OF AFGHANISTAN. Unfortunately, the minority Harper government (38%) continues to ignore the will of the Canadian people in this as well as so many other areas. In the case of Afghanistan it is a simple ideological romance with George W. Bush and the neo-fascist neo-cons who have hijacked that country’s government as well.
Toronto Star Editorial
October 24, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is spending $30 million or more in Afghanistan to “protect and promote” human rights and to “strengthen the rule of law” by training judges, prosecutors and public defenders. It is part of our $1.3 billion Afghan aid program.
But Canada’s effort to help modernize the legal system has been cast in doubt by the disturbing case of Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student who was condemned to death earlier this year by a court in Mazar-e-Sharif after a five-minute trial.
He had been accused of blasphemy against Islam for raising questions in a university class about Islamic attitudes toward women’s rights, and for distributing an Internet article that asks why Islam isn’t modernized to ensure equality of the sexes.
In Afghanistan, blasphemy is punishable by death. This week an appeals court reduced the sentence to 20 years. Kambakhsh’s family contends local warlords instigated the charges against him because his brother, also a journalist, had angered them with critical articles.
However this murky travesty of justice plays out, the Harper government ought to issue a strong protest. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who can pardon criminals, should be told that Canadian taxpayers cannot be expected to fund a “justice” system that can condemn someone to death after a quickie trial, with inadequate defence, for raising basic questions about human rights in a university classroom.
This looks more like the Taliban than any court Canadians would recognize as such. Canada’s troops are not fighting and dying in Afghanistan to make the place safe for religious zealots who hold human life in low regard.
Victory Impossible in Afghanistan: Senior British Commander October 4, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: Afghanistan, Afghanistan and drugs, Afghanistan Karzai corruption, Afghanistan War, Afghanistan Women's Rights, Karzai government, roger hollander, U.S. Afghanistan War
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The U.S. inaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 ostensibly to capture Bin Laden. Then they let him slip through their hands. Then the installed their puppet Karzai, and oilman and buddy of Geoge Bush. Karzai’s government is a sham and has control of only a small area of the country. Today truthout.org reports on his brother’s ties to narco-trafficking. Like the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, the U.S and its allies are bogged down in Afghanistan with no end in sight. The country continues to be a haven for drug cultivation, its regional leaders are opportunist and corrupt war lords, and its human rights record, especially with respect to the treatment of women, is pathetic and probably just as bad as when the Taliban ruled.
Here is what a British General has to say about the futility of the invasion and war in Afghanistan:
Victory impossible in Afghanistan: senior British commanderSource: CBC News
Posted: 10/04/08 9:10PM
Filed Under: Top News
Western forces in Afghanistan will never be able to win the war against insurgents and may need to include the Taliban in any long-term solution, Britain’s senior commander in the country says in a report.
An absolute military victory in Afghanistan is impossible, Brig.-Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith told England’s Sunday Times newspaper.
What foreign forces must now come to grips with, he said, is reducing the level of insurgency so that it can be managed by Afghan forces and no longer poses a major threat.
“We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency … I don’t think we should expect that when we go there won’t be roaming bands of armed men in this part of the world,” Carleton-Smith was quoted as saying.
“That would be unrealistic and probably incredible.”
As such, striking a deal with the Taliban could be considered as a strategic option, Carleton-Smith said. It is an idea that has been repeatedly – and recently – advanced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
A willingness on the part of the Taliban to negotiate a political deal could be a big step towards reining in the insurgency to a manageable level, Carleton-Smith said.
“If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this. That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable,” he told the Sunday Times.
However, Karzai’s offer of peace talks was rejected by a senior Taliban leader on Friday. The Taliban have repeatedly said they will not negotiate until foreign troops have left the country.
Carleton-Smith’s comments were publicized as the British government once again sought to dismiss reports it believes the West is losing the battle in Afghanistan.
Britain’s Foreign Office said that while it’s ambassador, Sherard Cowper-Coles, did hold a meeting with a French official and discussed the situation in Afghanistan, his reported comments that foreign troops there were “part of the problem, not the solution” do not reflect the government’s views.
A French newspaper on Wednesday published what it claimed was a diplomatic cable written by France’s deputy ambassador to Afghanistan describing a conversation he had with Cowper-Coles.
The alleged cable said Cowper-Coles believes the West’s war against Taliban forces in Afghanistan is being lost and the coalition that includes Canada’s Armed Forces should leave an “acceptable dictator” in charge of the country within five to 10 years.
“We have no alternative to supporting the United States in Afghanistan, but we should tell them that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one,” the cable paraphrases Cowper-Coles as saying.
A Foreign Office official, who demanded anonymity to discuss the purported leaked cable, said Saturday the claim that Cowper-Coles advocated a dictatorship in Afghanistan was “utter nonsense.”
A similar dismissal was delivered Friday by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who called the report “garbled” and said Britain is not in favour of a move toward a Kabul dictatorship.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier refused on Saturday to either confirm or deny the cable’s existence. He said that it’s alleged message, however, “doesn’t correspond at all with what we hear from our British counterparts in our discussions on Afghanistan.”
Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan includes about 2,500 personnel, most of them located in the volatile Kandahar region. France has about 3,000 troops in the country, while Britain has about 8,400.
At the beginning of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr last month, Karzai called for peace talks with the Taliban to bring an end to seven years of military conflict in his country. The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks that killed approximately 3,000 people in the U.S.
Karzai has asked the Saudi Arabian head of state King Abdullah to help moderate peace talks between insurgents and his government, which is supported by Western forces and governments.
Senior Taliban commander Mullah Brother swiftly rejected Karzai’s appeal, calling him a U.S. “puppet” and repeating a promise to continue fighting until all 70,000 NATO and U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan leave.
With files from the Associated Press
Afghan War Heats Up October 2, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: Add new tag, Afghanistan and Taliban, Afghanistan Karzai corruption, Afghanistan War, Afghanistan Women's Rights, Karzai government, roger hollander, U.S. Afghanistan War
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NEWS & LETTERS, August – September 2008
Afghan war heats up
Far from winding down after more than six years, the war in Afghanistan is becoming more deadly. The U.S. media paid special attention now that more U.S. soldiers and their NATO allies are being killed in Afghanistan than in the war in Iraq. However, in both countries high levels of civilian death tolls from terrorist violence and, especially in Afghanistan, indiscriminate U.S. bombings have continued unabated. In the first three months of 2008, nearly 700 civilians were killed in Afghanistan alone. The government initially had the support of most Afghanis who celebrated the overthrow of the Taliban’s ruthless totalitarian rule, but now Afghanistan has seen a Taliban resurgence.
The plight of Afghanis was never a priority in the U.S.’s imperial strategy. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks President Bush found in the Afghan war an opportunistic prelude to his war on Iraq and further ambition to dominate the whole Middle-East oil region, extending to the Russian border in the Caucasus. Afghanistan was left with a weak central government and reactionary warlords of the Northern Alliance in charge of much of the country. Under U.S. and NATO occupation, where billions have been spent bolstering the corrupt Karzai regime and its military, the conditions of life for ordinary Afghanis have been on a steep downward slide.
PAKISTAN AND THE ISLAMISTS
Rather than seriously go after Al Qaeda, the U.S. closely partnered with the hated military strongman Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, who likewise made deals with reactionary Islamists. The Islamists in northern Pakistan continue to protect Al Qaeda and the Taliban as they cross the Afghanistan border, including Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who directs a war of terror against any who disagree with his reactionary ideology, including members of his own Pashtun tribe. Musharraf’s corruption is so pervasive and well documented that it united divergent factions in the effort to impeach him. Musharraf resigned and, as he was on the way out, the CIA exposed the collaboration of Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agents with Taliban terrorists who recently bombed the Indian consulate in Kabul. Taliban defectors report on continuous close ties between ISI and the Taliban, ties that go back to the war against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The U.S.’s continued reliance on bombing creates new sympathizers for the Taliban as when a bomb killed 47 in a wedding party July 6 in the Weygel Valley. In the same area on July 13 the Taliban directly attacked a small U.S. outpost, killing nine U.S. soldiers. This was a startling development because the Taliban had mostly been relying on suicide bombers, introduced into Afghanistan after the occupation, and other terror tactics. On Aug. 19, 10 French NATO soldiers were killed in an ambush near Kabul. In June, the Taliban freed 1,200 prisoners in Kandahar after blowing a hole in the prison wall and killing the guards.
The Karzai government, with little influence outside of Kabul, has become hugely unpopular because securing a government position became a license to shake down ordinary citizens. Most of the country is run by warlords and drug lords who manage the opium trade and run roughshod over the population. Opium had been outlawed under Taliban rule but now has become a source of income for them and the foundation for much of the ailing economy.
WOMEN’S OPPRESSION PERSISTS
Much of the violence is directed against children and young girls who are raped with impunity. A private TV channel aired the cries of a family and their 12 year-old daughter who was gang raped and pleaded for help from President Karzai. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) produced the tape at great risk to themselves because in Afghanistan even raising the plight of women and children is taboo. The family had to be taken into protective custody, but, as a RAWA member put it, “This is just an example among thousands of other cases. The rest go unnoticed by the media.”
Some roads and fancy buildings have gone up in big cities but little has impacted the vast majority who make up one of the poorest countries on earth. In April, when the price of wheat shot up 100% and rice 38%, there were riots and looting in several cities. Hunger and starvation stalks five to six million people. The UN World Food Program already supports 3.5 million people and projects much greater needs than can be filled because neighboring Pakistan, which usually supplies Afghan food markets, now has its own food crisis and has banned food exports. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force says the food crisis may become more of a threat to stability than the insurgency.
Whether because of its military tactics that rely on bombing or its global food shortage, capitalist imperialism has been incapable in six long years to even provide a viable alternative to the reactionary and misogynist Taliban. More than ever the struggle for self-determination in opposition to war has to include a vision of the new society beyond capitalism and its inherent state of permanent war. Nothing being said by the candidates in this election, who are now supporting more troops for Afghanistan, indicates anything but more of the same.