A few weeks back, State Department officials expressed hope that Afghanistan’s appointed President, Hamid Karzai, would demonstrate a reduction in corruption. They must feel disappointed.
In the cabinet he announced last week, Mr. Karzai conceded just enough to minimally satisfy competing constituencies: on the one hand, Washington and its NATO allies, which aim to have 140,000 troops in the country by mid-2010; on the other, the political cronies who made sure he won a fraud-marred election. That is not the standard the times require.
Mr. Karzai still does not seem to understand that substantial and urgent change is needed — in policies and personnel — to fix a government that has lost credibility and is barely hanging on in the face of an increasingly powerful Taliban insurgency.
In announcing earlier this month that he is committing 30,000 more troops to the fight, President Obama made clear that a credible partner is essential to any effort to stabilize Afghanistan to the point where the Americans and their NATO allies can eventually go home.
Of the 24 cabinet nominees, slightly more than half are ministers who would stay in their current positions or who have served previously in Mr. Karzai’s government. Ismail Khan, a notorious warlord from Herat who has been accused of human rights abuses, will stay on as water and energy minister. Mr. Karzai has at least two other warlords in his team: Vice Presidents Muhammad Qasim Fahim and Karim Khalili, who are reported to have looted Afghanistan for years. It might make a difference if they showed a conversion to the rule of law and to a government that puts the needs of all citizens ahead of personal interests. There is little sign of that.
We were also disappointed that Mr. Karzai excluded Abdullah Abdullah, his main challenger in the August election, and his supporters. The Afghan people might be more convinced that their government is working on their behalf if Mr. Karzai reached out to his critics as well as his cronies. Mr. Abdullah and his allies can make a real contribution if they take this opportunity to build a responsible opposition party that holds the government to account, including on stamping out corruption… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
Had Hamid Karzai, former Unocal employee with gas pipeline expertise, even the slightest scintilla of integrity, he could never have been chosen as puppet for the Bush/GOP regime. He will not reform, because it is not in his personal interest to do so. Supporting him paints the US as an enemy in the Afghan people’s eyes and ensures the failure of our mission there.