With some notable exceptions and a great deal of grumbling in its ranks, Congress seems to be going right along with Obama’s Afghan plan. Such as it is.
Washington will add some 30,000 U.S. troops to the war, practically none of which will be loved ones of White House staffers, lawmakers, Pentagon officials, and the war contractors who are behind the push. This latest escalation means 100,000 of our troops will soon be on the line there, facing trauma, maiming, and death. America’s money goes with them—the cost of maintaining each soldier in this faraway land is roughly a million dollars a year.
For what? We’re told that the goal is to build up the Afghan army and central government of President Hamid Karzai so they can, someday, secure their own divided, war-torn country. Whether that’s really in our national interest, much less worthy of the sacrifice of American blood and treasure, is doubtful. But one thing is not in doubt: Continuing to prop up Hamid Karzai is a disgrace.
His inept and thoroughly corrupt presidency, assured only by bribes and massive electoral fraud in his recent re-election campaign, is not worthy of a single American life or dollar. Obama claims that Karzai will end the corruption—or else. Or else what? No one says.
Meanwhile, at a recent anti-corruption dog-and-pony show in the Afghan capital, Karzai made a terrible showing. He made a point of defending the city’s mayor, who’s already been convicted of misusing public funds and is facing more charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. Karzai called him a “clean person” and pushed to reverse his conviction.
Washington keeps telling Karzai to get rid of all the corrupt officials in his government. But wait—it’s his government. He’s the chief of corruption! Why should anyone else die for this guy?
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and the 2009 winner of the Nation/Puffin Prize. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.