Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Puppet Off the String – Hamid Karzai

The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld apocalyptic triumvirate learned the hard way in Iraq that you need native collaborators to administer an occupied country. Even after that, the incompetent trio stumbled around to the extent it cannot account for 9 billion dollars. Soldiers are engaged in insuring the country remains conquered while the collaborators run the infrastructure, act as dog catchers, pick up garbage and attempt to rebuild the country damaged by an invasion.

Apart from low-level collaborators such as Iraqi interpreters and journalist stringers, the US burn rate on high level collaborators was at a furious pace. The most embarrassing and probably the most damaging to US operations was the demented neocon sponsored Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi ended up as Iranian collaborator with fists full of US dollars. He was show-cased by GW Bush seated near Laura Bush at a State of the Union address.

Maliki appears to be the final top-level collaborator as the US withdraws from Iraq – he too keeps a foot in the Iranian camp and moves closer to Tehran by the day. All this as Iraqi cities continue to have their hearts ripped out by insurgent bombers.

The super collaborator to watch today is Hamid Karzai, our sometimes man in Kabul, Afghanistan. He has reported to have said, If I am called a puppet because we are grateful to America, then let that be my nickname. So let us call him a Puppet Karzai. He was installed by the US after the invasion and finally elected as Afghan president in 2004. He is of the Pashtun, the tribe from which the Taliban springs. His latest election was forced into a run off by the US and UN because of massive voter fraud. The next election is slated for this November 7th.

Karzai has been a failure as a leader. His power is more or less limited to Kabul – he is sarcastically called the Mayor of Kabul. There have been three
assassination attempts on his life. Wags declare that he is protected by four US Delta Force members even when he takes a piss. There are constant reports of massive corruption and he has taken steps to protect the drug trade. Karzai simply cannot take control of areas cleared by international forces; he cannot provide security for his people even in conjunction with NATO and the US.

Karzai defends himself by protesting that his country is a young democracy with immature and fragile institutions. He explains his unpopularity by blaming US/NATO forces for indiscriminately killing and detaining innocent Afghans. Like good and bad cholesterol, he contends there are good and bad Taliban; that international forces are unable to discriminate between them.

Until the next election there is no legal president of Afghanistan. Karzai was forced by US pressure and international persuasion to accept a rerun – he blew off US envoy Holbrooke and was finally forced by Senator Kerry, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to submit to another vote. Karsai's main opponent, Abdullah, refuses to form a unity government, so post election politics there will be strained.

US/NATO strategy in Afghanistan is at best confused. Do you defend population centers or chase insurgents in the mountains and country side? One or the other has to have priority. A tentative US plan calls for a build-up to 400,000 Afghan police and army security force. For the record in Afghan history, the maximum number of these forces ever formed was about 80,000.

After having two US remote fire bases hit hard with heavy casualties, the US appears to have redeployed. At the same time in Pakistan, the Pakistan forces have engaged in operations forcing Taliban back into Afghanistan along its borders; Pakistan army has publicly requested US block the return and destroy the insurgents – a little too late for coordinated operations.

Reports are that al Qaeda is out of Afghanistan, deployed now to tribal areas in Pakistan. If you believe the US in fighting and dying in Afghanistan to fight terror or establish democracy, you may wish to reconsider. Main terror threat to the US appears now to be home-grown in the US. Islamic law and democracy so far have not proved compatible. Troop status quo or reinforcement has reached a point of diminishing returns that brings no stability, only more casualties.

There is another explanation for remaining in Afghanistan and that is OIL. There is a long history of attempts to establish an oil pipeline: the trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. The route would be from the Caspian sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The company that is promoting it is UNOCAL/Chevron, a California consortium. It recently put together the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Karzai has been alleged to be associated with this group. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan under GW Bush, Zalmay Khalilzad was a consultant to the corporation. In 1996, the Taliban was involved in negotiations with UNOCAL over the pipeline, but could not come to agreement. So apparently the search still continues for a GOOD TALIBAN, one that wants a pipeline. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


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