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Advice to Obama on what the U.S. military should do in Afghanistan: Overthrow Karzai government

A modest proposal
Robert Maier
Saturday 28 March 2009

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Overthrowing the Karzai government by U.S. forces may seem to be a radical suggestion, but it is probably on the minds of millions of Afghans. Hamid Karzai was selected by American leadership, then elected in 2005 by a hopeful people tired of decades of conflict funded by outsiders. Since the 2002 invasion of Afghanistan, after initial hopes defined by dancing in the streets, opening of media outlets and schools, and the end of many restrictions on women, a great disappointment has settled on the country.

Bush’s ill-informed occupation encouraged the coalition military to make quick deals with local warlords—who change allegiances as quickly as underwear—giving them the power to steal all they wanted and preserve their personal militias to lord it over the local folk already who saw their hopes of freedom and justice vanish in these horrible deals. These warlords professed belief in “democracy and the American way” and U.S. officials bought hook, line and sinker (see Sarah Chayse’s book “The Punishment of Virtue”).

Next followed the millionaire carpetbaggers and greedy “development” officials charged with re-building Afghanistan’s infrastructure. Their work was funded by gullible taxpayers around the globe, who thought they were helping the heroic Afghan people crawl from the ruins of a thirty year war. In reality the money was squandered on buildings that were never built, outrageous living and consultant expenses, and big bucks spent on studies by cronies, colleagues and institutions who never set foot in Afghanistan. (See the recent Washington Post article on former U.N. aid administrator, Gary K. Helseth)

The drug-dealing mafia and industrial/financial oligarchs found a comfortable haven, replacing the Taliban as the “real government in Afghanistan building their narco-palaces and driving their narco-SUVs, while escorted by AK-47 equipped private security guards on their occasional forays into Kabul from their compounds in Dubai.

Cronies and family were installed in every nook and cranny of Afghan officialdom, collecting salaries for doing nothing, stealing liberally from the river of narco and foreign aid cash that flowed through the autocrats’ pockets, and showing the lower classes that bribery and skimming were the only social security they’d ever see. Incompetents were installed at all levels. Ministries became dysfunctional havens of favoritism where money rolled in, but little was built but off-shore bank accounts.

As the media began sounding alarms, through media reports about corruption in the religion and government, the government united with fundamentalist criminals to threaten, beat, imprison and even murder those who dared threaten the status quo of the rich and powerful. Many popular journalists fled or were effectively silenced by their media bosses who knuckled under to the threats from government agents. Sadly, several of these heroic figures were murdered. Many of these journalists now live in a poor exile in the U.S., E.U., and U.K., unable to travel, receive an education, or build a life beyond working in warehouses or restaurant kitchens. The road to protection by Western democracies, who once encouraged their efforts, is now blocked by those who benefit from the fiction that Afghanistan is making great strides in human rights.

The average Afghan family, worker and entrepreneur is fed up. They are tired of the waste and arrogance of the NGOs, the military forces, the U.N., the ex-pat Afghan oligarch chums of Bush, and the U.S. State Department. They hate that their beloved news media has been silenced, that there is virtually no electricity, running water, sewerage, housing, honest police, higher education, healthcare, social services, or system of justice.

The most recent message, sent just last month, by the Karzai administration to progressive Afghan thinkers hoping for world class human rights and justice was that the young student/journalist, Parwiz Kambaksh was secretly sentenced to 20 years in prison for “blasphemy,” because he read an article exploring the rights of Islamic women. Thousands of people signed petitions imploring Karzai to step in. Respected commentators, diplomats, governments, and international human rights organizations decried this decision for two years while Parwiz sat in jail. And now he faces twenty years more.
What kind of message is that to any journalist or human rights advocate in Afghanistan? For this government American soldiers die nearly every day in Afghanistan? For this Afghan government the world is sends millions of dollars a month? For this Obama will send 30,000 new troops to support and protect Hamid Karzai’s hand-picked Ministers? The Guardian newspaper (UK) reports that Karzai is backing a new Afghan law “that the UN said legalized rape within marriage and severely limited the rights of women. “

Considering the above, doesn’t it may make sense for the surge of new troops to dismiss the current Afghan government, that hasn’t performed much better than Saddam Hussain in Iraq. Who would miss them? The Taliban? The oligarchs? The narco mafia? Probably not the poor schoolteachers who make $40 a month.

If Obama is convinced that Afghanistan is such a pivot point for world peace and security, then the most drastic measures are warranted. Throw the rascals out. The only disappointed people will be the drug lords, smugglers, cronies, nepotists, embezzlers, extortionists, monopolists, and various vultures hoping to stuff their pockets and pad their resumes with the fiction of serving in a “dangerous duty station.”
Mr. Obama, please use these new troops in the way that will be most appreciated by the long-suffering Afghan people, whose main problem over the past several years has not been the Taliban, but the Afghan government.

Kabulpress English pages editor, writer, video producer and educator.

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  • Do you know why the United States instilled its confidence in Karzai? The United States simply supported the one who came forward and was able to serve their purpose. If there was a better candidate to lead a transistion or permanent government, he or she didn’t come forward at the most opportune time. That’s why the president of Iraq is who he is, rather than someone the Iraqis could get behind. That’s why both the Afghan and Iraqi governments have the same legitimacy problems.

    That was the point of my article regarding indegenous people being part of the scenery until someone comes forward out of the scenery as the face of the people that the occupiers can see. Occupiers will cling to those who speak their language and who seem helpful in fulfilling their agenda.

    I know my suggestion may seem controversial and inflammatory, given the high emotions between the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, but what Afghanistan needs is their own Gandhi or Jinnah, someone who has the popular mandate of the Afghan people, who will approach the United States in a peacefully assertive way.

    An idea that might be helpful in the meantime is to have an interim law that says the President can only make ministerial appointments on the approval of the vice presidents, at least one of the three must be Pashtun and at least one be from a Northern Alliance ethnic group. The remaining position can be from any group. When coupled with laws specifying ministerial qualifications, as an aspect of civil service, incidents of cronyism should be greatly reduced.

    I have read the Afghan Constitution and it’s written in a way that desperately wants to get past ethnic conflicts and tensions. But that’s not reality. For now, there must be checks and balances in the executive branch so neither Northern Alliance peoples, Baluchis or Pashtuns feel marginalized, nor does any group dominate.

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