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Clinton’s U.S. election consultant James Carville advising "Taliban with a tie"

Ashraf Ghani , well-funded presidential candidate and long-time Karzai supporter benefitting from "unofficial" U.S. campaign help

Thursday 6 August 2009, by Robert Maier

All the versions of this article: [English] [فارسى]

James Carville, captain of Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaigns became an advisor to Afghan Presidential Candidate, Ashraf Ghani in early July. Carville has close ties to the Democratic Party, President Clinton and his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Carville and the State Department claim neither he nor Ghani have the official backing of the U.S. government. No contract details have been disclosed, including any fees Carville might receive.

Kabulpress suggests that the democracy-loving Carville might check a little further into the Ashraf Gahni’s background to see if he is really the person to lead Afghanistan into a just society governed under the rule of law by considering the following:

1. Ghani’s candidacy is probably illegal. The Afghan Constitution requires that all Presidential candidates be citizens of Afghanistan. Ghani holds a U.S. passport, and according to sources at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, he has never applied to rescind his U.S. citizenship. This is a long, complex process, and would have been noticed, if accomplished. There are many media references to Ghani’s American citizenship, and he must clear up this question.

2. Ghani was selected by President Karzai to be the President of Kabul University. During his tenure, he was usually marked absent. According to University regulations, its president must be in his office during his presidency, and the day-to-day stewardship of the university must be his primary duty. According to students and staff, Ghani was rarely at the university—spending most of his time traveling abroad. This was a substantial violation of university policy and public law, causing much consternation among faculty, students and staff. As president, he also pushed Pashto as the official Afghan language and denigrated the huge number of Persian/Dari language speakers at the University. Ghani quickly resigned his post to move onto other things.

3. Ghani has been an outspoken supporter of the Pashtun-based Taliban. As a nationalistic Pashtun, he has appeared in many global media outlets pushing reconciliation with the same Taliban which murdered tens of thousands of Afghans in the 1990s, which protected Osama bin Laden, and is currently organizing daily missions to kill American troops and Afghan citizens in Afghanistan. Ghani’s political choices are deeply questioned by millions of Afghans who lived through the Taliban reign of terror. Many call him the “Taliban with a tie.”

4. Ghani did substantial work for the World Bank and other U.S. institutions that recruited and backed Afghan Pashtun ex-patriots in the 1980’s and 90’s. Many of these individuals had close ties with the CIA. Ghani has actually been accused of being a current CIA agent by the globally recognized Afghan women’s rights organization, RAWA.

5. Ghani, from the very beginning in 2001, has been a primary builder of the national disaster that is Afghanistan today. He helped draw up the Bonn Accords and the Afghan Constitution. He helped build the Afghan financial system, and was a key adviser to Hamid Karzai for many years. His quick reversal of loyalties to Afghanistan’s ruling elite creates big questions in the minds of many Afghans, who see him as Karzai’s mirror. Will he maintain the current policies of government corruption, embezzlement, the drug trade, and growing human rights violations that have marked the Karzai administration?

Does Carville know the real Ashraf Ghani, or is he only familiar with the fluffy biographies published in Wikipedia and right-leaning think tanks with big government and big international aid agency consulting contracts? Those institutions have buckets of money for funding cronies, easy-to-buy-politicians, fat executive perks and salaries, and massive reports that pay consultants big bucks, but deliver less than nothing to the neediest on the ground. Will he serve those people, or the Afghan villagers who have suffered so much already?


Kamran Mir Hazar contributed to this article.

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  • I must say, this is by far one of the most absurd piece of writing I have ever read. Where did the author get his facts from, is beyond my understanding. Referring to Dr. Ghani’s record at Kabul University, the author mentions that “During his tenure, he was usually marked absent”, did the author manage to gain access to Dr. Ghani’s monthly attendance sheet? Can he provide any prove that would back their claim?

    The author also mentions that Dr. Ghani is an “outspoken supporter of the Taliban.” Well, there is a huge difference between being a supporter of the Taliban and pushing for dialogue with them. I would dare say that nearly all of the presidential candidates support the idea of talks with the Taliban including Ramazan Bashardost, whom Kabul Press is the mouthpiece for. It is absolutely clear that the current security situation will never improve in Afghanistan, if the Taliban are not engaged, whether we like it or not. The author has also jumped on the bandwagon with those who falsely claim that Dr. Ghani is tied to the CIA. On the contrary, Dr. Ghani has criticized the US government and its intelligence community on several occasions for their ineffective policies, especially during the Bush administration.

    The author continues to blab about the Bonn Conference and the Afghan constitution being a national disaster. I agree that the Afghan constitution is not perfect and there is work that can be done to improve it and the Bonn Conference had its flaws as well. However, Dr. Ghani was not the only one behind the Bonn Conference. This is where the writer contradicts himself. If Dr. Ghani was a supporter of the Taliban as the writer suggests, and if he was the only individual behind the Bonn Conference, wouldn’t he have given the Taliban a seat in the conference? On the other hand, a glamorous constitution isn’t the end of the story. We can have the most progressive constitution in the region. However, Afghanistan lacks the capacity within its law enforcement agencies to implement the constitution. In addition, suggesting that the Afghan financial system is a national disaster is another fact that the author have pulled out of deep holes in their bodies. When Dr. Ghani took over as the finance minister, Afghanistan was bankrupt, had multiple currencies, governors and warlords were pocketing the income from customs and the financial system was outdated. By the end of his term as the Finance Minister, Afghanistan’s annual revenue quadrupled, a new currency was introduced and the customs were centralized, with all of its income flowing into the central government. Also, by the end of his tenure at the Ministry of finance, he laid the basis of a new financial system and had secured billions of dollars in foriegn aid at the Tokyo Conference.

    It is also moronic to suggest that Afghans see Dr. Ghani as Karzai’s mirror. Afghanistan started going into a downward spiral, when Dr. Ghani left Karzai’s administration. There are many in the world, who would vouch for Dr. Ghani’s outstanding record as a reformer and academician. The author is quiet an irresponsible journalist, because if he were, he would have done a little more research on Ashraf Ghani’s academic work, including his latest book, Fixing Failed States.

    One could also question the quick reversal of loyalties of Mr. Bashardost, who after being kicked out of Karzai’s administration became an independent candidate. However, no one with a logical brain would do that.

    Now to address the broader question of Carville’s involvement with Dr. Ghani, I am pretty sure that Mr. Carville cares about his reputation as a successful electoral campaign expert, and would not associate himself with every Tom, Dick and Harry. I am also certain that, compared to the author of this article, Mr. Carville did a little more research on Dr. Ghani before joining his campaign.

    I am all for democracy and freedom of speech. However, it is unfair and honestly an act of bigotry to accuse someone at Dr. Ghani’s level of ethnic animosity. Kabul Express is turning into Fox News of Afghanistan - a mouthpiece for crony politicians, who haven’t done anything and do not possess half of Dr. Ghani’s intellect and experience

    • Ashraf Ghani is an old and professional spy of CIA.
      http://pz.rawa.org/67/68election_candidates.htm

    • Fox News of Afghanistan...i said the exact same thing when I read this article. I think we have the new Daniel Pipes "expert" on our country. Instead of place of Muslim fear mongering...it’s Pashtuns! Though hiring an American aid can be perceived as suspect, show me a presidential candidate in this race who doesn’t have foreign aids!

    • In response to Harris Najib’s emotional defense of Dr. Ghani, he fails to address the #1 point. Has Ghani renounced his American citizenship to become a legal candidate for President of Afghanistan? If he ignores this important constitutional point, what does that say about his honesty in all other personal and political areas?

      Kabulpress has hundreds of sources supplying authenticated information. It tries to reflect this in its articles. Kabul Press welcomes criticism and comments without censorship. It also stands by the information in its articles.

      This may seem “absurd” and “moronic” to those whose agenda a particular article doesn’t fit, but we do support free discourse, unlike many in the Afghan government, especially those who have illegally jailed journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh, and have approved official government filtering of Kabulpress.org in Afghanistan. Kabulpress.org would love to publish Dr. Ghani’s thoughts, as an educated, respected leader, on these last two issues as well, which are key to the democratic process under law.

    • Rawa?! Seriously? Way to quote a credible source

    • My defense of Dr. Ghani is not emotional, it’s rational. On the other hand, your contradictory statements, quoting RAWA as a credible source, lack of objectivity, honesty and some basic research dwarfs your credibility as a writer. If Kabul Press promotes free discourse, it should also promote civilized discourse and journalistic integrity. Also, if Kabul Press stands by the information provided in your article, then it lacks something fundamentally essential to a news agency - credibility and impartiality.

      Also, I never thought I would honor your first argument with a response. However, here it goes. Do you think that the Afghan Independent Election Commission would have accepted Dr. Ghani’s candidacy if there was any issue with his citizenship?

      If you read his book, much of Dr. Ghani’s argument revolves around a citizen-centered approach towards achieving good governance. He also stresses on the importance of free press and civil society as two essential pillars of a sound democracy, but again, who took some time out to do a little research.

      Finally, listening to clueless foreigners have screwed us for the good part of the past three decades. It’s about time we Afghans get our act together and trust our own instincts.

    • Dr. Ghani abandoned his US citizenship two days before registering as a candidate for presidency.

      Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/afghanistan/2009/07/090718_a-af-election-profile-ashraf-ghani.shtml

    • harris jaan,

      What else do you know about Afghanistan?

      Have you ever been in kabul university when ghani was president?

      What attendance sheet are you talking about? Who was taking attendance for ghani?

      پیش پنج هم پنچ، پیش صاحب پنچ هم پنچ

      When ghani was the president of kabul university, two members of my family were studying there, ghani was missing for months, livening abroad.

      Ohh yea, I know you will say it is not credible source.

      Rawa is not credible source, Kabulpress is one sided. What is credible source? BBC, CNN?

      I am not going to mention fox news, but can you tell me what is the difference between CNN and Fox news?

      CNN and BBC are the propaganda machines of this hegemonic power structure as much as Fox News is. Don’t forget that ghani’s current advisor, James Carville is/was a commentator for CNN. (You say “listening to clueless foreigners have screwed us for the good part of the past three decades. It’s about time we Afghans get our act together and trust our own instincts.” Good, but ghani is listening to a commentator from CNN, can you tell me how much James Carville knows about Afghanistan/ Do you know many CNN commentators are paid by Pentagon? Search about the Pentagon paid Iraqi experts just before the War in Iraq)

      You love to talk about doing research, good, if you don’t believe what I said about CNN and BBC, just read and listen carefully what they write and say about Afghanistan for a week. Underline the shaky statements and compare them with local sources in different languages. You will see the real face of CNN and BBC.

      Ghani, karzai, and in some contents Abdullah are created and supported by the U.S power structure. And they represent, and work for America to maintain U.S’s existence power structure in the region. I know you will say it is not credible, wrong and…….. . okey, I am not going through the relationship between CIA and Karzai and Abdullah and I am not going to write how karzai wanted to resign and CIA did not let him and how much CIA gave to Abdullah, you should search if you want, but please conduct a research about ghani because without doubt he is the smarter version of karzai and Abdullah.

      He was a strong defender of Taliban, lobbying for them. I still remember his interviews with your “credible” source, BBC. I am talking about the time when CNN and BBC were calling Taliban, “home grown traditional Muslims”, and the U.S goverment was gving them millions of dollars. For your information the term “homegrown traditional Muslims” was coined and used by RAND Corporation for the first time. So, now, please search only the relationship of ghani, CNN and RAND Corporation, which has been behind every single important policy about Afghanistan for the last thirty years. You will find and understand the real face of ghani, not by reading his book although it is good to read any kind of books.

  • A person who cannot manage a university, how can he manage a country?

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=89228754508
    Sarwar Ahmadzai & Ashraf Ghani must work together!
    Mr. Sarwar Ahmadzai who is a candidate for Afghan elections should join hands with Ashraf Ghani and work together!

    Mr. Sarwar Ahmadzai is a great Afghan personality. He is young and talented.
    Mr. Sarwar Ahmadzai had a key role in Obama’s election campaign and has good links with Democrates!

    http://www.kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?breve20

    Presidential candidate Ahmadzai threatens candidate Dr. Ramazan Bashardost on Afghan national TV
    Saturday 8 August 2009
    Afghan presidential candidate, Mohammad Sarwar Ahmadzai, appeared on Afghan national television on Saturday August 8 with several other presidential candidates, including Dr. Ramazan Bashardost. Ahmadzai said that notorious Taliban leaders Mullah Omar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, who are accused of carrying out unspeakable violence against the Afghan people during the civil war, were brothers of all Afghans, and would be a part of his government, if he were elected.

    Dr. Ramazan Bashardost responded that he would never allow alleged criminals like these to be part of his government. Ahmadzai whose Facebook page claims his campaign “is the peoples campaign, I stand for the youth, elders, disabled, widows and orphans of Afghanistan,” angrily jumped from his chair, shook his fist, and threw his fountain pen at Dr. Bashardost while shouting that he was one family with Mullah Omar, Hekmatyar, and Haqqani... and Dr. Bashardost must show his respect to these great men.

  • My defense of Dr. Ghani is not emotional, it’s rational. On the other hand, your contradictory statements, quoting RAWA as a credible source, lack of objectivity, honesty and basic research dwarfs your credibility as a writer. If Kabul Press promotes free discourse, it should also promote civilized discourse and journalistic integrity. Also, if Kabul Press stands by the information provided in your article, then it lacks something fundamentally essential to a news agency - credibility and impartiality.

    Also, I never thought I would honor your first argument with a response. However, here it goes. Do you think that the Afghan Independent Election Commission would have accepted Dr. Ghani’s candidacy if there was any issue with his citizenship?

    If you read his book, much of Dr. Ghani’s argument revolves around a citizen-centered approach towards achieving good governance. He also stresses on the importance of free press and civil society as two essential pillars of a sound democracy, but again, who took some time out to do a little research.

    Finally, listening to clueless foreigners have screwed us for the good part of the past three decades. It’s about time we Afghans get our act together and trust our own instincts.

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