Hamid Karzai, the green-caped magician, has for over 12 years successfully entangled the U.S., ISAF countries, and other international actors in a continuing saga of graft and corruption, in a narco-state run by criminal enterprises with the active participation of government officials, and with the outsiders financing the whole enterprise and defending it with the blood of their soldiers. Time and time again these corrupt criminal enterprises, financed by U.S. taxpayers among others, have undermined any chances for democratic forces to take root in Afghanistan.
The major risk points for the warlords who run Afghanistan’s “kleptocracy” are the periodic elections to the national assembly and for the presidency that he Constitution requires to be held.
In 2009 Karzai emerged victorious from the massive electoral fraud of the first round election, with the help of the U.S. who apparently persuaded Abdullah Abdullah, who would have faced Karzai in a second-round run-off, to withdraw from the race.
Now Karzai has hit upon the brilliant scheme of delaying signature of the status-of-forces agreement with the U.S. and other countries until after the upcoming presidential elections to be held on April 5, 2014. By this stroke of genius, if the West allows it to stand, Karzai will have guaranteed the U.S. and other Western countries’ acquiescence in whatever level of fraud may be required to ensure his hand-picked successor is elected.
Steve Kerry, “Kerry Opposes Afghan Delay on Security Deal,” New York Times, November 22, 2013.
Azam Ahmed, “Karzai Says He’ll Wait to Sign Security Pact With U.S. Until Next Year,” New York Times, November 21, 2013.
If they complain about fraud, no status-of-forces agreement will enter into effect. Consequently, Karzai will have enormous leverage.
Because it believes a contingent of U.S. and other ISAF forces should remain, through 2024, the U.S. will in effect become the guarantor of Karzai’s next round of fraudulent elections.
Among tHe alternative scenarios would be to dump Karzai and push really hard for free and fair elections in April, which could return a leader not beholden to or a puppet of Karzai. Someone like Abdullah Abdullah, who made eminent good sense and spoke like a real democrat during the 2009 campaign. This would require overcoming resistance from the CIA, which has had many high government officials in Afghanistan on its payroll, and which (it would not be surprising to learn some day) may have had a similar relation with Karzai himself at some point in the past.
Another alternative would be for the U.S. Congress to immediately pass a law providing no U.S. funds can be spent in Afghanistan after January 1, 2015 if the status of forces agreement does not come into force by January 1, 2014.
But, in the end, the American people will ask more fundamental questions, such as why U.S. taxpayers should pay one more cent, or their soldiers expend one more drop of blood, to keep Karzai and his cronies in power in “Corrupt-istan” (in Dexter Filkins’ memorable phrase).
Why not rebuild Detroit instead?
Why not, in fact, initiate a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. and ISAF forces from Afghanistan beginning January 1, 2014, regardless of what ruse or ploy the green-caped magician comes up with next?
These are some of the questions the American people will be asking.
The Trenchant Observer