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Old 02-14-2011, 01:38 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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US military finally cleansing southern Afghanistan of the Taliban.

This military achievement cannot be overstated, and it speaks to the amazing abilities of our modern American military. We're asking them to go to an alien earth and push out a deeply-rooted enemy, and they're actually getting it done. Again, amazing.

But that's only where the problems begin. As usual, everything in Afghanistan is a selection between really shitty choices.

The upcoming shitty choice we have to make is what to do about an Afghan government that is basically gearing up to be a vast criminal organization.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...d-america.html

Mubarak, Karzai, and America
Posted by Dexter Filkins
February 12, 2011

Afghanistan is a long way from Egypt, and is a very different place, but the most important lesson flowing from Tahrir Square seems directly relevant to the American predicament in Central Asia: The quality of governance practiced by our allies matters, and we ignore it at our peril.

For decades, the United States spent billions of dollars underwriting a regime in Egypt that it knew was corrupt, ruthless, and undemocratic. This was done, we all know by now, because the leader of that regime, Hosni Mubarak, was willing to advance the interests—at least the short-term interests—of the United States. Mubarak kept Islamists at bay and upheld a peace treaty with Israel. In return, successive American Presidents looked the other way as Mubarak’s henchmen tortured opponents and stole elections, and as a small circle of plutocrats enriched themselves at everyone else’s expense. In Washington, the deal was rationalized on the grounds that whoever replaced Mubarak would be worse—worse for America, that is.

How does this relate to our experience in Afghanistan? Our local ally, Hamid Karzai, was democratically elected, albeit in an election, in 2009, that was flawed. (Independent monitors found that at least a million ballots were stolen or forged on Karzai’s behalf.) And whatever else Karzai does, he does not imprison dissidents (at least the non-violent ones) by the thousands or otherwise employ legions of professional torturers. But as my recent story in this magazine showed, Karzai’s government, in the nine years since Americans and their allies came to his country, has evolved into a vast criminal enterprise that preys on its own people.

Corruption in Afghanistan taints virtually every interaction that ordinary Afghans have with their government: police shake down people for bribes, officials fork over huge sums to acquire their jobs, and senior officials demand kickbacks. The result is that the Karzai government has become one of the primary engines driving people to the Taliban. No matter how unpopular the insurgency is, the Afghan government, across much of the Pashtun heartland, is even more so. Just how unpopular became apparent to me last year, when I accompanied Karzai and General Stanley McChrystal, then the American commander, to a meeting with tribal leaders in Kandahar. Karzai called the meeting to rally support for the big, mostly American offensive in Kandahar, and it could have been scripted by an American political consultant. Dressed in full tribal regalia, Karzai walked onto the set, gave a quick, canned speech, and then left the room, not even pausing to talk to any of the tribal leaders.

But I did. And what the tribal elders told me was enough to fill a whole notebook. (I was a reporter for the New York Times then, and filed a story about the visit.) The gist: The Kandahari elders harbored no love for the Taliban, but they hated the Afghan government more. Why? Because, far from serving the local Afghans, government officials got rich off of them.

One of the men I interviewed for the Times piece was named Haji Mahmood. He told me how, several months before, he had purchased a plot of land from the government and invested thousands of dollars to build a string of shops. A few months later, bulldozers came and plowed over Mahmood’s shops, and government officials reclaimed the land. It seemed that the local official whom Mahmood had paid the money had never recorded the sale. Mahmood’s suspicion was that the official kept the money for himself.

“Not many people support the Taliban, because they don’t really have a program,” Mahmood told me. “But believe me, if they did, people would.”

In Afghanistan, tales like Mahmood’s are legion. American officials say privately that corruption in Karzai’s government directly feeds the insurgency. And yet, as my piece in the magazine shows, the American response to the corruption in Karzai’s government has been one of passivity and silence. Meanwhile, American Marines and soldiers are pressing the offensive in the south, fighting and dying on Karzai’s behalf.

On corruption, the American strategy isn’t clear. The American military appears to be succeeding in clearing the Taliban from large swaths of southern Afghanistan. But then what? At some point, the Afghans themselves have to take over—that is, the Afghan government. Without a government that is legitimate—that serves the people—it’s hard to imagine that the hard-won American gains can ever stick.

Which brings us back to Egypt. For thirty years, the United States supported a government that was predatory and corrupt. And so are we in Kabul. After Tahrir Square, do we really think the Afghans won’t notice?
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:51 PM   #2
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:52 PM   #3
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Good thing Obama wants Taliban dead, because W sure as heck did NOT...
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:03 PM   #4
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Good thing Obama wants Taliban dead, because W sure as heck did NOT...
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:44 PM   #6
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If any of you ever get to see the National Geographic documentary entitled "Restrepo" it is about these young men that are putting their lives on the line out there and it is fabulous.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:08 PM   #7
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From reading the military obits in USA Today, i'd say we need to completely demolish Helmand province. Seemingly 3 out of every 4 deaths to our guys come out of that region.

On a related note, the new Rolling Stone with Elton John on the cover has an excellent article on Petraeus in Afghanistan. That country will never, ever be anything close to stable. We should all but abandon that shithole, leaving just enough air assets & covert types to blast bad guys from a safe distance.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:19 PM   #8
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It would have helped the cause of wiping out Taliban and AQ to have local help with those at war with Taliban/AQ way before 911.

Good thing W listened to Israel, which told W "Iran cannot be part of a war on terror," so that then W called Iran evil, and hence went our local cooperation to wipe out those behind 911...

and our troops were deployed to country A to fight with ally B against enemy C, then our Prez flipped off ally B to sukk up to lobby Z with our troops still there and the mission not accomplished...
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:21 PM   #9
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After watching a movie/documentary on the valley in Afganistan, i have no idea how they are accomplishing anything.
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:52 PM   #10
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If you had lived there your whole life, like the Northern Alliance, you'd actually have a clue then...
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Old 02-14-2011, 07:37 PM   #11
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After watching a movie/documentary on the valley in Afganistan, i have no idea how they are accomplishing anything.
Restepo?
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:28 PM   #12
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If any of you ever get to see the National Geographic documentary entitled "Restrepo" it is about these young men that are putting their lives on the line out there and it is fabulous.
Second that. It's excellent !
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:18 PM   #13
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Restepo?
That's it.


Trying to play politics with the locals, having to fight an enemy that blends in with the population, etc. has to be frustrating as hell.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:41 PM   #14
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From reading the military obits in USA Today, i'd say we need to completely demolish Helmand province. Seemingly 3 out of every 4 deaths to our guys come out of that region.

On a related note, the new Rolling Stone with Elton John on the cover has an excellent article on Petraeus in Afghanistan. That country will never, ever be anything close to stable. We should all but abandon that shithole, leaving just enough air assets & covert types to blast bad guys from a safe distance.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:48 PM   #15
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At least our guys are keeping those pieces of shit fighting on their own territory instead of allowing them to bring the fight to US soil.
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