Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Will voters in your town believe Karzai is worth dying for?

November 21, 2009

Karzai reviews honour guard ahead of his inauguration at his sprawling Kabul palace on Nov. 19
In his inauguration speech on Thursday, Afghan president Hamid Karzai promised to combat corruption and appoint competent ministers, heading off the growing chorus of criticism from the West that his government is crooked and inept. Unsurprisingly, the Western dignitaries in the audience declared that they liked what they heard.

We predicted ahead of time that we would hear positive words about Karzai this week. After all, Western governments need to convince their own voters back home that the veteran Afghan leader’s government is worth sending their sons and daughters to die for. This autumn’s election debacle made Karzai look bad – a U.N.-backed probe found that nearly a third of votes cast for him were fake — but now that’s all over and the West needs him to look as reliable as possible.

A “very strong, substantial statement,” declared British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

“An important new starting point” that “set forth an agenda for change and reform” gushed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Let’s encourage and support the president,” said EU envoy Ettore Sequi.

Well, that’s what they said when the cameras were rolling. Behind the scenes the message was: Karzai’s speech was fine, but it’s just a speech.

“We’ve heard all of these sentiments before. If you compare his last inauguration to this inauguration, you’ll see there’s almost a 90 percent overlap,” was how one Western official in Kabul put it.

President Barack Obama, who is still considering whether to send tens of thousands of extra troops to join the 68,000 Americans and 40,000 NATO allies in Afghanistan, has a hard sell to his own Democratic party. If the inauguration means it is now time to be nice to Karzai, nobody told Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives. She let Karzai have it with both barrels.

“The president of Afghanistan has proven to be an unworthy partner,” she told NPR’s Morning Edition. “How can we ask the American people to pay a big price in lives and limbs and also in dollars if we don’t have a connection to reliable partner?”

[Above: Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai inspects the guard of honour on his arrival at the presidential palace for his inauguration in Kabul November 19, 2009. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen]


Karzai has not been efficient as president since he was installed after 9/11.So whether it was under George Bush, or it is under Obama, any Karzai administration will not work to expectations. Why should we let so many troops die in this case. Karzai should go or troops should come home.

Posted by Kawsu Ceesay | Report as abusive

I doubt it.

Osama bin Laden would be, although not in precisely the same sense.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

It’s not all Karzai to be blamed.Because according to European reprsentitve to Afghanistan,when Taliban were pushed back by Nato and US forces,and Karzai was chosen as president of Afghnistan.He requested the international community to send troops to all parts of Afghanistan,and not give its security in handes of warlords,who left bad memories of cruelty in minds of people of Afhanistan,but international community especially US did not accept the request,but rather forced him to handed over the security,and give them part in governance.Now this is the aftermath of that huge mistake that we are suffering from it.

Ahmad khalil
From pakistan

Posted by khalil | Report as abusive

Mr. Obama should stop voting present, and either send more troops as requested, or bring our current serving troops home.

Posted by springnow | Report as abusive

We “won” the war??? I know Karzai, his relatives, friends and Halliburton won big and Cheney’s retirement is assured but what exactly did America win? Why are my tax dollars paying to rebuild infrastructure that gets blown up about as fast as it can be rebuilt. But now that we have Karzai’s promise to clean up corruption so everything is OK…. until it’s not.

We have this sick altruistic habit of rebuilding countries that lose wars to us while our own cities are crumbling.

Oh wait, perfect solution… make Obama their president too! That way he can tax them into oblivion while rebuilding our country.

Posted by Bob Walton | Report as abusive

Another corrupt western-backed leader. We’ve seen this one before. Why don’t the limousine liberals in America complain about this rather than taking shots at say, Chinese investment in Africa? Proves racism and imperialism are still the real drivers of western minds.

Posted by PYC | Report as abusive

Hamid Karzai has been ‘up for the killing’ all along. Didn’t he gallop into Afghanistan with a gallant band of US special forces ‘cavalry’?

Thing were looking very good for him after the Taliban managed to do what they hadn’t been able to do for a decade and ‘knock off’ the only viable opposition he had, an Afghan who had not only fought the Russians, but had also stood off the Taliban – and who had some western ‘creds’ thanks to US media and National Geographic. Unfortunately, when the Americans decided that they needed to ‘go postal’ on southern Afghanistan Karzai, not realizing it would only offend his tribe, didn’t have much to say. That tribal alienation has come back to haunt him, for Karzai couldn’t survive in Afghanistan were it not for the massive private, western security net around him.

Want to bet the Presidential Guard had empty magazines in those ‘Kabool specials’ they’ve been issued? Best not take any chances, even if they are all ‘cousins’.

Posted by Popsiq | Report as abusive

If that’s the case then it would seem that Karzai was simply a dupe. He trusted that he would be given the support he would need to do the job, but instead found his hands tied and holding the bag.

It wouldn’t be the first time. There is that picture of Rumsfeld and Sadam shaking hands and making like nice friends. Foolish Sadam.

Some how I don’t think Karzai was completely ignorant of the facts. And I’m sure that profit from the current system has found its way into his possession to some degree.

Isn’t there a saying about never letting a crisis go to waste? Indeed. Afghanistan will be bled dry if the merchants that lead us have their way.

There are enough enemies of Afghanistan already living amongst its own people. They don’t need us there to add to the missery. Karzai can take his chances or leave the country. But the US needs to get out and stay out. The blood of my children is not worth his life.


“How can we ask the American people to pay a big price in lives and limbs and also in dollars if we don’t have a connection to reliable partner?”

Has anyone told the speaker that the American people are not paying a price in lives and limbs, it’s military is. There is a big big difference. Maybe she ought to butt out and let the President handle this one, it is his job after all, not hers.

Posted by bdy | Report as abusive

McDonald’s will open a restaurant at every corner in Afghanistan much as it did in many countries. Playboy will move its headquarters to Afghanistan. Cheap Afghan porn will flood the world. I am tired of politicians talking just to hear themselves talking. Action and prosperity is needed and not politician sweet talk.


“How can we ask the American people to pay a big price in lives and limbs and also in dollars if we don’t have a connection to reliable partner?”

The American people are only risking dollars not life or limb. The American Military is risking like and limb. The two groups couldn’t be more different but the speaker wouldn’t know that. She would not last 10 minutes in that country without guns for hire. She should stay out of the fray and let the President handle this, it is his job after all, not hers.

Posted by buddy | Report as abusive

Its is a corrupt government out there so expect nothing from them. I don’t think this government will make any progress.

Posted by Seyar | Report as abusive

“Has anyone told the speaker that the American people are not paying a price in lives and limbs, it’s military is.”

The military is made up of citizens. We do not have mercenary fighting forces. They are mothers and fathers. They are sons and daughters. And all of them are citizens. I know someone will probably point out that we do have some non-citizens among our fighting forces but they represent a very small minority.

It is indeed the American people who bleed and die in this effort. Their blood is being wasted on political garbage. And it needs to end now. There is no sane reason to support a corrupt government when we have our own corrupt government to clean up here at home.


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