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Michael Winship: Corruption Destroys Afghanistan

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

Corruption Destroys Afghanistan
By Michael Winship

Just when you’ve finally gotten your mind around the enormous $700 billion financial bailout – even if none of us are really sure where all that money’s going – there comes an even greater, breathtaking price tag.

The amount is $904 billion -- that’s how much we’ve spent on American military operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, since the 9/11 attacks; 50 percent more than what was spent in Vietnam, reports the non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. Their study does not include the inestimable toll in human life.

Of that money, nearly 200 billion has gone to Afghanistan, where 31,000 American troops are nearly 60 percent of the NATO peacekeeping force. When he becomes President, as promised during his campaign, Barack Obama will oversee the deployment of at least another 20,000 troops there.

This has been the deadliest year for American forces in Afghanistan since the war began. Our military faces a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda, better trained, better armed, supported from sanctuaries in Pakistan. But in an op-ed piece in last Sunday’s WASHINGTON POST, Sarah Chayes – the former National Public Radio reporter who has lived in Kandahar province since shortly after 9/11 – argued that America’s and Afghanistan’s biggest problem comes from within – our continuing support of a corrupt and abusive Afghan government that’s driving its people back into the arms of the fundamentalists.

Chayes, who organized a co-op of Afghan men and women making skin care products from herbs and botanicals as an alternative to the opium poppy trade, wrote, “I hear from Westerners that corruption is intrinsic to Afghan culture, that we should not hold Afghans up to our standards. I hear that Afghanistan is a tribal place, that it has never been, and can't be, governed. But that's not what I hear from Afghans.”

Chayes followed up that article with an interview conducted by my colleague Bill Moyers on the latest edition of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL on PBS. She told him that the United States and its NATO allies have had to convince themselves and public opinion in each of their countries that “this is a democratically elected representative government [in] Afghanistan in order to justify the sacrifices in money and troops. But the Afghans see it differently.”

What they see instead, she said, is a restoration to power under President Hamid Karzai of the gunslinging, crooked warlords who were repudiated when the Taliban first started taking over vast parts of the country a few years after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. The “appalling behavior” of officials in the current government, including rampant bribery, extortion and violence, is a serious factor in the Taliban resurgence – it’s estimated that they now have a “permanent presence” in 72 percent of the country, according to one think tank, the International Council on Security and Development.

Chayes said, “There are people who don't like the Taliban but may kind of knuckle under to them because, on the one hand, the government isn't doing anything better for them. And the Taliban are going to kill them if they don't visibly divide themselves away from the government.”
An Afghan woman in her cooperative compared it to "a man trying to stand on two watermelons. The Taliban shake us down at night, and the government shakes us down in the daytime."

The Taliban are aided and abetted by Pakistan, Chayes continued: “It has been obvious to me that the Pakistani military intelligence agency [ISI] has been basically creating, orchestrating this so-called Taliban resurgence since the end of 2001. So why are we paying Pakistan $1 billion a year?

“… We need to realign our policy… What you have in Pakistan is a fledgling civilian government that's kind of fighting for its life. And it's not in a position to be able to challenge this military intelligence agency very powerfully. We need to get with that government and figure out and scheme with it how do we reign in this state within the state that is the military intelligence agency, which has been manipulating and instrumentalizing religious extremism for the past 20, 30 years… in a very myopic way, to forward its regional agenda both in Kashmir and in Afghanistan?”

Additional American troops are important now, Chayes said, and suggested that NATO allies who face opposition at home to sending additional combat forces could instead send a corps of experienced officials – from retired mayors to agriculture experts – who could rigorously mentor Afghan public officials and potentially reform their ways. Reconstructing infrastructure is important, she said, “But you don’t get infrastructure if you’re passing it through corrupt channels.”

So if nothing changes, Bill Moyers asked, should American men and women continue to give their lives in support of a government overrun by Afghanistan’s criminal class? Chayes rephrased the question: “If we are not willing to even begin to challenge President Karzai… then why are we sending people to die?”

In his tour of Iraq and Afghanistan this past week, President Bush told Karzai that he could count on us no matter who’s in the White House: “It’s in our interest that Afghanistan’s democracy flourish.”

To which Sarah Chayes’ friends in Kandahar would reply, “What democracy?”

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


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Comments

To support and summarize the consensus below envision the following:
a-The US is the world's most corrupt nation.
b-The mimickry in poorer nations is only the lower amplitude shadow of American puppetmasters' misbehavior.
c-For selfish and stupid reasons US citizens have allowed themselves to become as relatively powerless as debt peons and indentured slaves in the most oppressed corners of the world.
d-There exists a network of cruel legalities enforcing and maintaining this arrangement.
e-Ask who benefits.
f-Try to be like Sarah Chayes.

This a reprint with some edits from Ms Chayes post above, but relevent here.

{Like Iraq, Afghanistans' citizens are of absolutely zero concern to the predator class and the oligachs who own and control the US government, and Afghani's, like Iraqi's will have absolutely no say in how the future of their nation is developed.

Also, like Iraq, -Afghanistan and the socalled neverendingwaronterror against the evildoer de jour - is actually ALL ABOUT THE OIL.

The US geopolitical designs and machinations in the region are bent on caging Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India, and China militarily (through cross purpose military agreements and increased military presense in South Asia and South Caucasus), and US control of oil out of the Caspian.

While blandisments of liberation democratization, and defeating evildoers may be entertaining, - the bruting is a distraction and misdirection masking the construction and securing of, and wanton profiteering from a gas and energy corridor through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan bypassing Russia and benefiting the oil and energy oligarchs and military, private military and private intelligence industrial complexes beholden to the US predator class.

The US/predator class is using the "rubric" or the masquarade of increased US military presense in Afghanistan and the necessary "support" presense, logistic infrastructure, and air rights and power along critical supply routes into Afghanistan an throughout the region as a backhanded means to control oil and natural gass flows out of the Caspian. In short the predator class needs to increase the military presense in the region to
develop said oil and energy corridor for thier singular wanton profits.

The real negotiatons with the Taliban will involve security, transport, and financial agreements concerning future oil distribution routes, - and will not involve or concern the best interests of Afghan people, of Americans, or any people anywhere on earth.

US decisions of war and peace are always made by the predator class, for the predator class with absolutely no concern the people of any nation as more than soldiers or consumers. In Afghanistan, like Iraq, - it's all about the oil and the wanton profits of the predator class.

Yesterdays enemies are shapeshifted into todays allies, only to be morphed again into tomorrows evildoers for political and economic expediency benefitting the predator class exclusively. All decisions are based entirely the interests of the predator class, - while all the rest of humanity are insignificant, valueless integers, or x's and o's in the predator class calculus.}

Eliminating threats is justified and may warrant military action, - but invasions and long term military occupations, and the erection of corrupt despotic puppet governments and branding them as fledgling democracies only serve the interests of the predator class.

Every one else on earth pays the terrible price in blood and treasure and lost freedoms.}

And so, into the breach of corruption and skulduggery in Afghanistan, dear friends, we send our loving gift of unbesmirched brave and good knights to right all wrongs by bombing, strafing, and shooting all who would stand in our glorious way.

It's all baloney, of course, just as it has been in the myriad countries whose inhabitants we have slaughtered in their millions in the service of whatever cockamamie plans the government's corporate masters have dreamed up.

Time to end this farce now. It's always been time to end this farce. If Americans have a soul, it's time to end the ceaseless rampages of the most violent nation on earth.

Of course, I could be wrong.

'Mov-en on' from election politics, corruption is part of 'world' business.

No where else in the world can you find more suckers born every minute than in Mainstreet Amwerica. We recognize it in Afganistan, etc. cause we see it in ourselves.

Compare the great accomplishments of mankind & list those that did NOT have some form of corruption................
still thinking?

Billy Bob, Florida
where doing it with out the 'C' word never occured to the collective minds of the DNP

The ISI was key to the false flagged attacks of 9/11. Their intelligence chief was here conferring with our elected criminals shortly before the attack. I would not be surprised if our corporate-directed intelligence elite had input into the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. Even with a collapsing economy, fear was beginning to ebb here in the U.S. If Obama opposes any of this he better not ride in any open cars, cut through any kitchens, or eat any untested food.

Thanks to brave Sarah Chayes for her accurate intelligence report to the American people.

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