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Archived: Dying for Karzai

Good grief. Just when you think America’s prospects in Afghanistan couldn’t get any bleaker, Obama gets hammered by Hamid.

Hamid Karzai is president of that fractious, impoverished country, and his government is infamously corrupt, incompetent, and despised by the people. So, naturally, our political and military leaders have been backing him.

Indeed, Karzai has come to be the key factor in deciding whether to spend still more American treasure and blood in the Afghanistan war. To  “succeed” in stabilizing this inherently unstable land, we’re told we must first establish a legitimate national government that’s competent enough to manage an army and end corruption. A “reformed” Karzai was said to be our best hope for this, and the U.S. supported him for a second term in August’s presidential election.

Some reformer. In the election, he openly used government money to bribe tribal warlords to back him, his vice presidential choice was widely known to be a drug trafficker, and his ballot-stuffing crew was so blatant that nearly a million of his votes were tossed out by his own handpicked election commission, forcing him into a runoff.

But the runoff election was so rigged that his opponent withdrew, refusing to sanction the charade.

Yet, our leaders continue to dance with Hamid, recognizing him as the election winner and bizarrely insisting that his “victory”—achieved only by massive corruption – is legitimate under the Afghan constitution.

Karzai-the-Reformed now asserts that he’ll clean up the corruption. How? No comment. Would some of the corrupt officials in his government be ousted? “These problems,” he responded, “cannot be solved by changing high-ranking officials.”

How can Obama and the generals even think of sending more Americans to die under the pretense that this guy’s “government” is worth saving?

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and winner of the 2009 winner of the Nation/Puffin Prize.