A few weeks ago the UN headman in Kabul, a woodenheaded Norwegian, decided that the recent Presidential elections were fine and Karzai was a legitimate ruler. His deputy, Peter Galbraith, the unofficial representative of the State Department, was enraged (since the US are unhappy with Karzai who is their own creature) and went public. He was fired.
But stories involving US reps and the UN never end like this. Yesterday the UN-supported electoral watchdog ruled that the elections had been fraudulent and ordered a new round. The Hindu Kush mountains must have resounded to the sound of Pashtun laughter.
Nobody in Afghanistan takes elections too seriously and especially not when the country is occupied by the US and its NATO acolytes. In the old days Karzai would have been got rid of like South Vietnamese dictators who made too big a mess.
Karzai has been a total disaster but so has the occupation that implanted him in Kabul. Now with a war going badly wrong and the insurgents controlling large swathes of territory, Karzai is being scape-goated for sins for which he is not exclusively responsible.
One solution being considered is the appointment of a US/UN-appointed Chief Executive Officer and here Peter Galbraith would be the obvious choice. This would be far more straightforward and the CEO could appoint a cabinet in which every rogue could share the spoils of the opium trade and a cut in the money being expended in the country, thus breaking the financial monopoly of the Karzai family.
The only reason for the public humiliation of a loyal puppet is his refusal to share power and money with other collaborators. If he is allowed to stay in power, I predict that he will be a more willing sharer. Not that this will solve any problems in the absence of a NATO exit strategy from the region.
While the farce plays out in Kabul, in neighbouring Pakistan the situation has become more deadly. The Zardari government (effectively run by the US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson) has ordered the Pakistan Army to wipe out the Taliban in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.
This, too, will fail. More innocents will die, more refugees will be created adding to the two million ‘internally displaced persons’ already living in camps. The result will be a bitter legacy, fuelling hatred and revenge attacks in the region and, ominously, creating further tensions inside the Pakistan Army.
Incapable of understanding that it is the Afghan war’s spill-over into Pakistan that has exacerbated the crisis in Pakistan, the Obama administration’s directives can only make it worse.
Tariq Ali’s latest book, The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other Essays, has just been published by Verso.