Karzai’s Bro


Exum says that Karzai's brother being on the CIA's dole is the most significant news of the week:

[If] this is true, and if the CIA is empowering Ahmed Wali Karzai at the same time in which NATO/ISAF is saying abusive local power-brokers are a threat to mission success, then this is yet another example of NATO/ISAF carrying out one campaign in Afghanistan while the CIA carries out another -- with both campaigns operating at cross purposes to one another. I should say here that I am in no position to confirm or deny this report. I can, however, say that numerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face -- bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. And so if AWK is "the agency's guy", that leads to a huge point of friction between NATO/ISAF and the CIA.

Ya think? Look: you can pore over these details for blame-targets all you want. The bottom line is that all occupations of countries as corrupt and as broken as Afghanistan will lead to such a complex network of bribes, threats, unholy alliances and unintended consequences that almost any neo-imperial power will at some point be working against itself. And the US is a neo-imperial power in effect if not in motivation. Tom Friedman's migration toward minimalism mirrors my own:

What if we shrink our presence in Afghanistan? Won’t Al Qaeda return, the Taliban be energized and Pakistan collapse? Maybe. Maybe not. This gets to my second principle: In the Middle East, all politics everything that matters happens the morning after the morning after.

Be patient. Yes, the morning after we shrink down in Afghanistan, the Taliban will celebrate, Pakistan will quake and bin Laden will issue an exultant video. And the morning after the morning after, the Taliban factions will start fighting each other, the Pakistani Army will have to destroy their Taliban, or be destroyed by them, Afghanistan’s warlords will carve up the country, and, if bin Laden comes out of his cave, he’ll get zapped by a drone.

The logic of empire is the logic of the welfare state. You begin by helping; you end by fomenting dependency and corruption. The conservative insight is that the solution can be worse than the problem. In Af-Pak and Iraq, it still is.