Thursday, November 12, 2009


By Ivan G. Goldman

The Obama Administration is telling wayward, dictatorial, corrupt Hamid Karzai to take on a new persona and become a champion of democracy, decorum, and decent, honest government.

Has anyone examined the premise of this demand with simple logic? What we’re asking is for Al Capone to take over Mother Teresa’s charity work. For starters, Karzai’s in league with his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. Two senior officials in the Obama Administration told the New York Times that Ahmed is a powerful heroin trafficker. You don’t sell heroin in a place like Afghanistan using clean methods. You corrupt some people, you terrorize and kill others. The Afghan government under Hamid Karzai is run like the NYPD of the seventies, when station houses passed around payoffs like precisely measured gumdrops.

Bear in mind that not only are we supposed to expect this guy to change his leopard’s spots. So are everyday Afghans, many of whom risked their lives to vote in the last election, which he then stole with such pathetic obviousness that it was embarrassing. They’ve been watching him govern for eight years. They know what’s possible and what isn’t. Can you imagine George W. Bush, after running things the way he did for two terms, suddenly transforming himself into Abraham Lincoln? Because that’s what we’re all expected to believe will happen in Afghanistan.

Bush handed Karzai a job and Karzai, like so many of Bush’s appointees in his administration, screwed it up beyond our lowest expectations. We can’t ask Afghans to support this guy, and we certainly can’t ask U.S. troops to fight and die for him. And we have no one else to turn to. We could stay there and hope that a massive, terribly expensive effort from us will improve things during the next two or three decades (while our troops keep taking casualties) or we can recognize reality and put our resources to better use elsewhere. Afghanistan is too broke for us to fix.

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