Posted on 06-04-2010
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

Hamid Karzai is the gift that gives on giving.  The latest by Afghanistan’s venal leader was a burst of peevishness at members of his parliament for having the temerity to block his takeover of the Afghan electoral commission.  See link.  Karzai declared that any more pressure on him would make him join the Taliban.  I encourage him to make the jump, though expect that he will receive the Najibullah treatment in short order if he makes such a move.  Now it is understandable that Karzai is looking for room to maneuver as the United States prepares to leave.  See link.  But by repeatedly criticizing the United States and NATO troops attempting to secure Afghanistan as occupiers he makes the task of pacification that much harder.

Others have noted that Karzai seems to be banking on the fact of his supposed indispensability and perhaps Washington has long memories of the South Vietnam quagmire after it acquiesed in the removal of President Ngo Dinh Diem.  See link.  If so, I think it is a mistake.  It is a mystery of why this venal incompetent with no political base to speak of became indispensable.  Part of the Karzai appeal stems from his being one of the few Pashtun leaders acceptable to other Afghan ethnicities.  But the election fraud last year has dimmed that appeal in the non-Pashtun regions.  His government’s corruption has similarly sapped reservoirs of goodwill in the Pashtun heartland (not helped by the nefarious dealings of his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai).  The supposed indispensability largely stems from a fear of the unknown, something previous Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf exploited to the hilt.

Yet after Musharraf’s departure Pakistan has finally moved against its Taliban proxies and its feeble civil institutions are showing signs of life.  And yet for years Washington and its allies and neighboring India put up with Musharraf’s double dealing because of the fear of what would happen if the urbane English speaking dictator left.  Pakistan may yet fall apart but fears of its imminent cataclysmic collapse appear overstated.  The same appears true in Afghanistan.  The west needs a competent reliable ally in Kabul and it is increasingly clear that the urbane English speaking Karzai is simply not that man.  His presence in power is likely to result in the waste of American blood spilled during the ongoing surge.

Karzai’s departure obviously will not be a panacea to Afghanistan’s ills.  Yet at this point it is increasingly hard to see how it will be worse.  I will close with a couple of clips from yesterday night’s Jon Stewart.

The first is a tongue in cheek look at Karzai’s latest blathering and the consequence of Karzai’s departure.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

The second is a more serious discussion with Reza Aslan on why and whether America should remain in Afghanistan.  While I understand Aslan’s point about the moral commitment made by the United States and the squandered opportunity, the reality is that the presence of foreign troops is increasingly unpopular and it is not clear that America will ever be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Reza Aslan
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

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