Wednesday, July 13, 2011

AWK: A Worthy King or A Wealthy Kleptocrat?

Ahmed Wali Karzai, half-brother of Hamid Karzai, was killed yesterday in Kandahar. In sum, AWK basically ruled southern Afghanistan as his personal fiefdom, has long been suspected of profiting from the drug trade, and has been both a nuisance to the US due to his reputation for corruption and a boon to the US due to his usefulness as a source of information (he was on the CIA's payroll).

Several points bother me. From the article:

--Mr. Karzai was shot to death by a police official, Sardar Muhammad, a longtime confidant, who was immediately killed by Mr. Karzai’s bodyguards, Afghan officials said. Mr. Muhammad’s body was later hung above a busy Kandahar street. His motives were not known; the Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, but there was no evidence that Mr. Muhammad, a member of the Karzais’ Populzai tribe, had ties to the insurgency.--

A police official and longtime confidant, Sardar Muhammad, killed him. Mr. Muhammad was a member of Karzai's tribe. The Karzai's are in power. Why the hell would the Taliban claim responsibility? I'm thinking they're just fucking with us. With Mr. Muhammad dead, there is no way to prove or disprove that he was sympathetic to the Taliban-- and that's the Taliban's opening. Their strategy must be "Why not? Let's just say he was with us. We'll claim responsibility, people will think we scored a huge success, and the US will have to come to the negotiation table from a reduced position of power. Booyah bitches!"

Basically, it can't hurt to lie when nobody knows the truth.

Further in the article:
--One American official on Tuesday lamented the “huge power vacuum” left by the assassination. “Do we care more about security and fighting the Taliban, or about drugs and corruption?” said the official, who would discuss the internal debate only on the condition of anonymity. “I think that most people would agree that taking on the Taliban is our top priority, and Ahmed Wali Karzai helped us with that.”--

I fail to see the distinction. Security and fighting the Taliban are Promethean pursuits unless a viable alternative is offered to the Afghan people, such as a functioning Afghan state. Kill and kill and kill Taliban, but if there's no other option, what good is killing Taliban going to do? Are you going to kill them out of existence? Impossible. As long as there is corruption (often motivated by drug money), and the state lacks legitimacy, there will always be a Taliban. In fact, the "Taliban" are not a united organization, like they were before the US invasion in 2001. Now, it's more of a catch-all term for religious zealots who kill Afghan officials and don't like to play with intelligent girls. Therefore, there will always be a "Taliban". There will always be "terrorists". As long as there is no functioning Afghan state (there is progress, to be sure), there will always be the Taliban, because anybody can call themselves Taliban if they resist the government. And as long as the government sucks, the "Taliban" have a smidgen of legitimacy.

In conclusion, instead of deciding that seeking security and fighting the Taliban are more important than combating drugs and corruption (and presenting that conclusion as self-evident), why not ask who was and is the source of the overall problem of lack of governance in Afghanistan: the Taliban or AWK? The answer is: both. Address that problem.

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