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The corruption conundrum

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Corruption is more and more being built up as our greatest problem in Afghanistan. It's all over the newspapers and the TV. At the epi-center of this corruption, the Kabul Bank we helped create and maintain has run aground and there's talk in the air of a financial bail-out.

Meanwhile, the $250 million commission created to buy off Taliban fighters is "almost dead," according to a top Afghan official at the commission. We have no trouble giving US tax dollars to the government and banking system in Afghanistan, but we can't seem to get the Taliban to take our money.

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"In Kabul, politics is all about money," a prominent Afghan businessman recently told New York Times reporters in a story on the political connections between President Hamid Karzai and the Kabul Bank. It seems the bank gave $14 million for Karzai's re-election after he agreed to name a bank shareholder's brother the fearsome Tajik General Muhammad Fahim -- as his vice presidential candidate.


US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai
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Afghan and US leaders are concerned the Kabul Bank mess could unravel the government of Afghanistan. It's a sticky matter for the US, since it helped create both the Afghan government and the Kabul Bank when it invaded in 2001. Our government has a major capital investment in the whole shebang. Our CIA, military and other US agencies have been hosing in US funds for years.

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The who's who of corruption

At this juncture, it's worth reminding ourselves what's really going on here. About a year ago, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show. She apparently knows Brzezinski's daughter, so it was a loose, friendly conversation. Maddow earnestly asked Brzezinski to comment on the corruption in Afghanistan. Brzezinski paused, then chuckled.

"But Rachel. What about the corruption in Washington?"

It was one of those unplanned remarks that suddenly flung open locked doors and shuttered windows. Yeh, what about the corruption in Washington, the town the infamous Philly Congressman Ozzie Myers summed up this way: "In this town, money talks and bullshit walks."

So why should we be aghast, after invading and occupying Afghanistan, to find out "politics is all about money" in Afghanistan?

The greasing of the wheels of politics in Washington is certainly more sophisticated and smoother than it is in Kabul. But let's not kid ourselves, it's all part of the same cesspool. Utilizing their best natural instincts, our loyal allies in Kabul have used our guidance and US tax dollar generosity to create an incredible infrastructure of mutual back-scratching and power-sharing. They also lined up some really cool villas in Dubai.

The real problem in Afghanistan for the US government in its determined world domination posture is not, as so many now like to complain, one of corruption. Corruption -- as we've seen historically in Central America, Vietnam and a host of other places is not something the United States is concerned about as long as the corrupt element is in synch with the interests of US policy makers.

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All we have to do is recall Franklin Roosevelt's comment on the English-speaking gangster-President of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza. "He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard."

No. The problem in Afghanistan is that the corruption that up until now has been fine with the US even funded and encouraged -- is now so pervasive and so evident and alienating for the ordinary Afghan citizen that it is making the Taliban and other insurgent elements look good.

Once again, the United States has used its great wealth and power to nurture a monster that, in the end, has become its own worst enemy. As Pogo put it, "I've met the enemy and the enemy is us." It would be comical if it were not so gravely serious.

Allowing wisdom to happen

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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)
 

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