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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

Investigative Journalists Are Better Spies Than CIA

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From The Washington Post:

KABUL — On their first day of class in Afghanistan, the new U.S. intelligence analysts were given a homework assignment.

First read a six-page classified military intelligence report about the situation in Spin Boldak, a key border town and smuggling route in southern Afghanistan. Then read a 7,500-word article in Harper’s magazine, also about Spin Boldak and the exploits of its powerful Afghan border police commander.

The conclusion they were expected to draw: The important information would be found in the magazine story. The scores of spies and analysts producing reams of secret documents were not cutting it.


Written by pavanvan

February 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Still Crazy After All These Years

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The Obama gave his much-anticipated military escalation speech yesterday, and while our mainstream pundits were busy falling over themselves to provide “strategic analysis” as to whom he pandered to when, they paid very little attention to what he actually said.

For those who are interested then, a brief dissection of Obama’s remarks last night. He begins:

We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station.

As opposed to the way the US took the lives of innocent men, women and children with regard to their faith/race/station? Specifically, we “took the lives” of oh, 100,000 Iraqis and who knows how many Afghans, the majority of whom are poor and Muslim. So let it not be said that the US murders indiscriminately! We tend to prefer the poor, the Arab, and the Muslim.

A cheap shot with which to begin this discussion, but it sets the tone for the rest of Obama’s speech. He follows that gem with:

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy — and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden — we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed.

Such mendacity appalls. As The Smoking Gun revealed in October 2001, the Taliban did agree to “turn over” bin Laden – that is, they agreed to extradite him to a third country (Pakistan), where we would later pick him up. The deal never went through because the US refused to show the Taliban the evidence it had gathered against bin Laden, asking them, in effect, to “trust us.”

In their words:

Taliban Ambassador Zaeef said, ‘We are not ready to hand over Osama bin Laden without evidence’.

One wonders what the outcome would be if, say, Saudi Arabia demanded we turn over one of our wealthiest citizens while refusing to give us any evidence of his culpability. I imagine we would say “No.”

Not to mention, of course, that under NATO law the Afghan war is illegal, as Afghanistan didn’t attack anybody.

Later, Obama gushes over how we’ve come a long way, baby:

Since then, we’ve made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we’ve stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation’s army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and — although it was marred by fraud — that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.

Wait… What? The election was “marred by fraud”, yet is still “consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution”? Surely you jest, Mr. President! And the Afghan election deserves a stronger verb than “marred”, I think. Fully one-third of Karzai’s votes were fakes, according to the CS Monitor, and the United States blatantly pressured Karzai’s rival to drop out of the race, essentially making it a one-candidate ballot. Is that what Obama means by “consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution”?

Apropos his decision to escalate the war by 35,000 extra soldiers, Obama remarks:

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat.

Sure. Except that none of the 9/11 hijackers were from Afghanistan (15 of them were from Saudi Arabia – you know, our best friend in the Middle East – and two were from the United Arab Emirates, our other best friend).

So anyway, according to Obama:

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

That’s a nice bit of alliteration: but what does it mean? “Disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” – is Al Qaeda some sort of nefarious robot or something? Actually, according to Marc Sageman (whose recent book, Leaderless Jihad, caused quite  a stir last year), “Al Qaeda” and “The Taliban” don’t even exist, as such. Instead of cohesive, top-down organizations, these catch-all terms refer instead to what Sageman calls “bunches of guys”, decentralized pockets with no general leadership and wide, disparate goals. If Sageman is correct our entire “counter-terrorism” paradigm is wrong, and our efforts to “kill or capture Al-Qaeda leaders” have almost no effect on “their” ability to operate. And 35,000 soldiers can do nothing about that.

And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility — what’s at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

With evidence that our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have precipitated a seven-fold increase in worldwide terrorism, one wonders exactly what Obama is talking about.

The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction.

His speech sent the right message? Well what kind of message did his massive electoral fraud send? Shouldn’t we listen to that one?

The Obama ends (finally!) with:

America — we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

*Sigh* Well, what more can one say?

Written by pavanvan

December 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Dirty Work

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It looks as though we’re trolling the Europeans for help on our Afghan problem. You know, the one that presents an “existential threat” to the United States and all? But I don’t think they’re biting this time.

From the Times:

NATO members and other foreign allies have expressed reluctance to send more soldiers because of the Afghan war’s growing unpopularity in their countries and increasing concerns over corruption in President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Silly NATO! When will they realize that such trivial matters as “public opinion” and “corruption” have no place when discussing vital defense strategy? Why can’t they take the United States’ example on this? The US, after all, doesn’t let a little thing like a widespread electoral fraud or massive heroin production by the winners of said fraud affect their decision. We must stay the course, after all!

Later they say that:

It remains unclear whether several thousand NATO and other foreign troops are really the equal of a similarly sized American force in terms of military capacity. Some countries may continue to restrict how their forces may be employed. In addition, a force that is cobbled together from too many nations — a few hundred here and a thousand there — might not have the unit cohesion of an American force, military analysts said.

Yeah, who needs ’em! The “military analysts” are right – nobody has the “unit cohesion” of a good ol’ red-blooded American soldier! It looks like no one at the Times has ever heard of a thing called “sour grapes”.

Written by pavanvan

November 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Two Bombs

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Two bombs went off in our war regions this week, the first deadly literal and the second no less murderous, but figurative. In Iraq a car bomb ripped through the capital, nearly demolishing their Justice Ministry and killing or wounding some 900-odd civilians. The explosion occurred just three blocks off from the “Green Zone” and emphasizes just how precarious our situation there is. Though our press continues to spout that “the surge worked” and that “violence has significantly reduced”, the fact remains that bombings in Iraq are still a weekly occurrence (Iraq has had 75 suicide bombings so far this year).

Of course, under our guiding “strategy” in Iraq, this latest attack will serve as further evidence that a troop withdrawal may be premature, instead of suggesting, as it should, that the withdrawal process has not occurred quickly enough. In particular, this episode exemplifies the inherent weakness of the al-Maliki government, and raises grave doubts as to how long he will survive our withdrawal; a fact which will probably be used in the future to justify some type of “security contingent” of residual American troops in Iraq.

Over on the other side of Iran, our Other War took a decidedly strange turn. The New York Times released yesterday the (not-so) shocking news that our corrupt friend Hamid Karzai’s improbably more corrupt brother happens to be on the CIA’s payroll. This is important news for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that Brother Karzai happens to be the single largest distributor of heroin in Afghanistan. (source 2, source 3, source 4, etc.) There goes our rationale of fighting the Afghans to stem their horrific flow of heroin. It is important to bear in mind that while Afghanistan currently supplies 90% of the world’s heroin, their large-scale poppy production began only after the US invasion, specifically in 2006-2007 (source). So if we went there to stem the tide of opium, our presence there has had a dramatically opposite effect.

This recent revelation that their largest opium producer works for the CIA can be considered a few different ways. Being that the CIA refuses to say anything about the matter, except that they paid Brother Karzai for “a variety of services”, one is left to speculate:

  1. The CIA pays Brother Karzai to keep tabs on Prime Minister Hamid

This would suggest that while our CIA certainly does not care about destroying opium, they consider its production an irrelevant by-product. Here, opium production is the easiest way to control the Karzai government, making them acquiesce to US rule and sign a general blank check for us to operate on their territory

2.    The CIA actually wishes for an increase in opium and heroin production

Recently, I have heard this theory expressed quite often, and incredible though it may sound, its supporters do adhere to a sort of logic. Under this interpretation, US and CIA involvement in Afghanistan is actually designed to produce opium, one of the most profitable crops on earth. A very significant proportion of the heroin produced in Afghanistan is shipped to Europe or America, where it fetches a handsome price. The CIA, as most people know, have a rich and varied history of partnering with drug traffickers, even by their own admission. It would not be far-fetched to imagine some sort of arrangement where the CIA shares the profits from Karzai’s poppy fields and diverts it back into the US Treasury. When one considers that heroin is a multi-billion dollar per year industry, the prospect seems quite a bit more likely.

3.     The CIA has been keeping these payments to use as leverage.

This seems the most likely, when one stops to think about it. Karzai has been on the CIA payroll for more than 8 years (longer than his brother has been Prime Minister). Why would they choose to release this information now? To speculate, one might point to the recent botched elections in Afghanistan. Thus far the US has been rather supportive of the Karzai government, but they have been showing signs of impatience. It is entirely possible that some master brain within the State Department woke up one morning and decided to cut Karzai loose.  They may have decided the best way to do so would be to release sensitive information about Karzai’s brother in order to send a message, or to distance ourselves euphemistically (“Well, he’s a drug lord, you know? We don’t want to deal with drug lords…”)

All rootless speculation aside however, I think today’s news proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that our US Government engages heavily in the production and sale of illicit drugs in Afghanistan (murder, etc. not withstanding, of course.)

Written by pavanvan

October 30, 2009 at 2:39 am