Thursday, November 21, 2013

Crunch time for Karzai

Never during Karzai's ascent to power has any serious person doubted that he was anything other than America's flunky in Kabul.

The current debate about the future of US troops in Afghanistan after all US troops leave Afghanistan is just the latest instalment in a long-running charade. In the first instance, the very fact that anyone is having such a debate would make Orwell blush. You're either leaving or you're not.

The privileged classes in Afghanistan know what side of the debate they're on. No one knows better than Karzai himself that a complete withdrawal of the US means the end of the comprador kleptocracy that he has led for over a decade.

At the same time, he needs to preserve at least the appearance of some shadow of Afghan sovereignty. This is mainly for the benefit of the west rather than Afghans. It allows our elites to portray Karzai as something other than a puppet. "Oh look what a hard bargain the man is driving in the name of Afghan sovereignty."

In Afghanistan "the people" know better.

They know that lasting peace will never come with American boots on the ground.

They know that even a "bad" peace is to be preferred over unending war.

They know that "sovereignty" is an empty fraud if it is imposed by a foreign occupier.

And Karzai well knows that they know.

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