Afghan President Karzai Cashing In
By: John Hampton
Last week The New York Times reported that the CIA has been delivering large sums of cash to the Karzai led government of Afghanistan. The sum of the payments, which have been ongoing for the last ten years, is said to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The U.S. currency is packed in suitcases, plastic bags or backpacks and delivered to members of Karzai’s administration on a regular basis.
Khalil Roman, Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002-2005 said of the payments, “We called it ghost money. It came in secret and it left in secret.” The CIA had no comment on the story. Off the record funding is not a new concept. But with all that has happened since the war began (massive corruption within the Afghan government, allegations by Karzai himself that American forces have colluded with the Taliban, incidents of Green on Blue violence and the already enormous expense and fatigue brought on by a protracted war, I would have thought that these types of payments would have been curtailed long ago.
In the same Times article, Karzai related that the government of Iran had also been donating large amounts of cash to his government in the recent past. It seems as though the U.S. and Iran were in a bidding war, and the winner was to secure the allegiance of Karzai and his minions. Iran was eventually squeezed out by the U.S., and that’s a good thing. The less influence they have in Afghanistan, the better. But why is it that Americans are always left to pay the tab with only a Pyrrhic victory to show for it?
Did Iran intentionally engage in this bidding war knowing they would relent, but only after the U.S. had raised the bar by committing themselves to additional funding and resources? These are not stupid people. America is on the verge of bankruptcy! At some point, we will run out of money. That’s no secret.
The United States already gives billions of dollars in aid to the Afghan government. Why is it necessary for U.S. tax payers to fund this additional stipend? Apparently the CIA feels that this practice will guarantee continued access to, and influence over, the Karzai regime.
While speaking with reporters at his presidential palace, Karzai talked about negotiating a new bilateral security agreement with the U.S. The agreement will define any residual American military presence after 2014. Theoretically, this force would continue to train Afghans and carry out military operations. How much more training do these guys need? If they haven’t gotten it by now, no amount of additional training will suffice!
Karzai says he is prepared to sign the agreement, but only if promises of additional funding, training and equipment are in place. However, the need to extend immunity from Afghan law to U.S. troops remaining after 2014, does not seem to be a priority. Refusal to grant immunity was one of the reasons no residual force was left in Iraq.
“The position of the United States about the security of Afghanistan and relations with neighboring countries, or whatever attacks are happening from the neighboring countries to Afghanistan, should be very clear,” Karzai said. “So we are trying our best that the security of Afghanistan should be guaranteed, peace in Afghanistan should be guaranteed, a strengthening of the Afghan security forces should be guaranteed, as well the economy of Afghanistan should be guaranteed.” Why is this unscrupulous individual permitted to make such bold statements without promising anything in return?
Karzai is living in a dream world. No amount of money, training or equipment can guarantee such things. There is no utopia, especially not in a land as lawless and unforgiving as Afghanistan.
On Saturday, the Defense Department reported that five U.S. troops were killed in Kandahar Province when their vehicle contacted an IED. They were the first KIAs for the month of May. Later that same day, a member of the Afghan National Army shot and killed two other U.S. soldiers. More than 30 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan already this year.
With no mention of the tremendous amount of blood and treasure already sacrificed by the United States in his country, Karzai has the gall to ask for more! He wants his economy and the safety of his people guaranteed, but he is not inclined to grant immunity to Americans who will likely die in the process.
I realize there are times when the U.S. government has no choice but to deal with dictators, tyrants and thugs. I also understand how vital it is that terrorists, regardless of affiliation, be denied safe haven and the ability to train, coordinate and develop their capabilities. But there are limits to everything! Who is setting the terms of our withdrawal from Afghanistan? It sounds like Karzai thinks he is. And our government, bearing parcels stuffed with cash, is only encouraging this behavior.
Political correctness, reckless expenditure of tax payer money and reluctance by our leaders to enforce a pro-American agenda in Afghanistan is endangering our troops and our homeland. America has an immense amount of blood and treasure invested in Afghanistan. It is therefore incumbent upon our government to insist on policies and practices that best protect our troops, our interests and our standing on the world stage.
John Hampton lives in Tehachapi CA and is quite concerned about the policies and motives of the current Administration. He believes in a system that holds our freedoms sacred, promotes personal responsibility, prudence and high moral standards.