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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Karzai Stabs US in Back.

It appears Mr Karzai is up to his usual tricks. Today he told Pakistan TV he'd back them against the US. It's all just chat. The BBC doesn't even have it on its front page website. Why? Because it's not serious news, it's just games.

First to give Karzai his credit: The man has sat in a role no sensible person on earth would want. Being President of Afghanistan is like walking around all day with a faulty grenade in your pocket, knowing one day it's almost certain to go off and blow you to Kingdom Come. For over 5 years he has sat in the most isolated political position imaginable and made decisions which were constantly guaranteed to upset at least one of the armed, deadly groups in his land. He has watched countless friends and work colleagues murdered and lived with the permanent knowledge that he is likely to be killed at some point.

His comment (on Pakistan tv) that he would back Pakistan in a war with the US is being picked up on as the ultimate slap in the face. I don't really see it that way and I'm not surprised by the childishness going on in the press over this.

Karzai is shrewd.

He's also probably corrupt.

But he's also the only man capable of doing the job that needs doing: holding together countless complex tribal and religious factions in a fragile and volatile nation where men will often forsake wealth over the pettiest matters of personal pride.

Recently Karzai was accused of wooing the Taliban by saying Christians had little place in Afghanistan. This was reported all over the world and Karzai was thus declared a bigot and an extremist. He then appealed to the courts to dismiss anti-Christian cases which persecuted Christians in his country. This is all a balancing act. Karzai has simply got to maintain the loyalty of tribal and religious elders if he is to hold the whole damned nightmare together.

With 87% of the world's heroin coming from Afghanistan, it is remarkable that Karzai is even still alive; drug traffickers don't care what you believe in, and having tried to crush the power of the drug warlords Karzai has persistently put his life at risk every day of every year since he came to power. That the world's petulant press cannot see this is in itself noteworthy.

We judge the situation in Afghanistan according to our own twisted sense of superiority, as though to sanction Iraq into 1,000,000+ innocent lost lives was a mark of our own moral rectitude whilst Karzai the demon is a panderer apparently beneath our noble western brilliance.

Karzai is Karzai. Afghanistan is Afghanistan. They never asked us to invade their country and inflict unbelievable loss of life on them...people seem to forget that.

In the final examination, what interests me is the way Americans are now talking about the "ungrateful" Karzai the way British people used to talk about Kenya or Zimbabwe or South Africa or Pakistan - that we had done so much for our empire subjects and now they turn against us!

The invasion of Afghanistan ended the Taliban but it still left power in the hands of the rural warlords and drug dealers. Anyone who thinks Afghanistan is a more stable society thanks to our efforts is nuts.

Yet it's not correct to say our efforts were in vain. There is deep gratitude in Afghanistan for the fact that there are basic freedoms today that didn't exist before. To see that youth in Kabul can play its rock music and piss about does give one a sense that the sacrifice of US and British soldiers will one day be recognised fully.

Sadly, that day is probably a long way off, and it must be arrived at in a time suitable to the Afghan people, whose suffering is beyond our western imaginations.

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