Saturday, April 11, 2009


Since being installed in the Presidential Palace by American soldiers shortly after the fall of the Taliban Karzai has been content following orders from Washington while siphoning off public funds for the construction of palaces and other trapping of power. He has even described himself as an American puppet. However, there appears to have been some falling out recently. In the last few months Karzai's stature as a courageous democratic visionary has diminished drastically.

Some of his less admirable characteristics were suddenly noticed in the West about the same time as the State Department's man in Afghanistan repeatedly broke with the official line to angrily denounce civilian casualties resulting from NATO military operation, his first real crime. With an election approaching it is likely the Americans will hand over the operations of the Afghan government to a more obedient crony, perhaps their former proconsul and U.N ambassador will, while retaining Karzai as a figurehead or even attempt to oust him all together in favor of a less free-minded visionary.

For seven years Karzai was adored for his courage and honesty while the tribal warlord and his cronies looted government coffers. Karzai would do well to remember the fate of other Washington allies who displayed an independent streak, the fate of Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega should be at the front of his mind. Perhaps the rift will be healed and Karzai's heroic stature will be renewed, if not it will be entertaining to watch the falling out, to watch the sudden concern of western officials for Karzai's corruption, dealmaking with warlords, anti-democratic tendencies, and connections to the drug trade. Certainly real issues, but ones of negligible importance when Karzai was following orders.

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