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Hamid Karzai: The NYT’s Faithful Client

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The New York Times has a rather fluffy article in today’s issue about how Abdullah Abdullah, the gentlemen from whom Hamid Karzai stole last year’s election in Afghanistan, was given a “cold shoulder” from the White House.  The United States, it seems, did not want to give an impression of “doubt” that Mr. Karzai, whose brother is Afghanistan’s biggest drug kingpin, is serious about “combating drugs and corruption”. A more clear and direct vote of confidence for our faithful client in Afghanistan, one can hardly envision.

The article stands as a tract to justify Karzai’s illegitimate rule in Afghanistan, but it does more than that. The most interesting quote comes halfway through the piece:

“There is no point in rolling out the red carpet for a guy who is wanting recognition for being himself,” said a senior European diplomat who is involved in Afghanistan. “The world doesn’t work that way. Karzai is the elected leader of Afghanistan.”

Forgive me, but why did this “senior European diplomat” need anonymity to state such a trite banality? Did they really need to hide his identity so that he could spout the US governnment’s “line” with an air of objectivity? And who is this mystery diplomat anyway?

A clue comes in his final statement: “Karzai is the elected leader of Afghanistan”. Now, it should be clear to anyone who has even loosely followed the debacle of Afghanistan’s election last August that Hamid Karzai is not the rightfully elected leader of Afghanistan, that he fabricated at least one-third of his votes, that he engaged in widespread voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing, and that nearly every international monitoring agency declared the election in which Karzai won a sham.

The only “senior European diplomat” who has consistently apologized for Karzai’s election “engineering” is Kai Eide, who summarily fired his subordinate, Peter Galbraith, for breaking the story that one-third of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent last October. Kai Eide is one of the most odious UN officials working for Afghanistan, one who has consistently and repeatedly covered up for Hamid Karzai’s staggering corruption, his lawless reprisals against dissent, and his slavish devotion to the US occupation of Afghanistan. It would make perfect sense for him to lend his “expertise” to the New York Times for a hit-piece on his best buddy Karzai’s biggest rival.

But the article is even more insidious than that. Nowhere does it even mention that Karzai’s August 2009 victory was fradulent, save for a single mention that Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai’s vanquished rival, “accused the Karzai government of profound corruption and electoral fraud“, a sling which could be interpreted as mere sour grapes, if it didn’t happen to be true. An uninformed reader, after digesting this one-sided pap, would come away with the clear impression that Hamid Karzai legitimately won the August 2009 election, and that the United States is correct in giving his losing rival the “cold shoulder”. This is a falsehood and a fallacy. Karzai did not legitimately win the election, and the US is wrong and undemocratic to deny the rightful victor, Abdullah Abdullah, an audience with President Obama, who, after all, is leading a vicious occupation of his country.

A sad showing from the once-venerable Gray Lady.


Written by pavanvan

May 21, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Running Off

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Corrupt Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently agreed to a run-off election, in an all but open admission that more than one-third of his votes were fraudulent. Allegations of fraud have hounded Karzai since he “won” the August Afghan election, and a UN official was fired for breaking the news that more than a third of Karzai’s votes came from non-existent persons. Since then, international pressure has steadily mounted for Karzai (who was described by one of his former subordinates as a “US Stooge”) to accede to a runoff election, or, more preferably, step down with some dignity intact.

But at the time of Karzai’s original announcement of victory, a second election appeared highly unlikely. Even after an independent election commission had voided tens of thousands of his votes, Karzai seemed poised to unilaterally declare victory, fraud be damned. As he claimed only one week ago, the election in August was both “good” and “fair”. Then, three days later, Karzai woke up, examined himself in the mirror, and decided a runoff election maybe isn’t such a bad idea after all. It would be interesting to see what changed over the course of those few days.

The answer almost certainly has to do with America. Since 2004, Hamid Karzai has been “our man in Afghanistan”. US policy planners repeatedly overlooked his blatant, widespread corruption, his open ties to militants, his family members who happen to be in the opium business, and numerous other transgressions we have not the privilege of knowing. They did so because Karzai was (and is) seemingly the one person in Afghanistan who will support a US invasion of his country under any and all circumstances. Indeed, even at the height of the fraud accusations, the Obama Administration expressed little doubt that Karzai would end up serving a second term.

But how did we convince Karzai to buckle down and accept a runoff? Ahmad Rashid over at The New York Review appears to have an answer: the Obama Administration announced on October 18th (mere days before Karzi acceded to the runoff) that no more US troops would be forthcoming unless there was a “legitimate” government in Kabul. Now, as Karzai well knows, the only thing standing between himself and assassination are US troops. So, with his life on the line, the choice for a runoff election was not a difficult one to make.

Particularly in light of the Obama’s Administration’s comments via The New York Times:

“At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in New York on Friday that included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghanistan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the ministers agreed that Karzai would likely prevail, either by his current victory margin of more than 50 per cent, or by winning a runoff against his main competitor Abdullah Abdullah,”

It should be pretty clear that Karzai is still the US favorite, warts and all, and only needs to forge another election to gain legitimacy. Which is what will likely happen.

The Afghan runoff election will occur November 7th. I don’t think there should be any doubt as to who the victor will be. If, by some miracle, Karzai does not prevail, I will give up any pretense to knowledge of international affairs.

Written by pavanvan

October 23, 2009 at 10:06 pm