I found this juicy tidbit on The Daily Beast. “For over a decade the CIA has been delivering money to the offices of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, in the shadiest ways possible: suitcases, backpacks, and plastic bags full of cash. The New York Times reports that tens of millions of dollars have gone to Karzai’s office. And it doesn’t seem like the CIA is getting what it wants for its money: much of it is used to pay off warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade, fueling the corruption U.S. diplomats have been trying to fight.”
The first Pilgrims came to America in 1609 to escape religious persecution. We still had religious disagreements when the Maryland colony passed the Act Concerning Religion; a law mandating religious tolerance, in 1649.
In the 1700s the frontier was the Appalachian Mountains, later with westward expansion the frontier moved to the territories beyond the Mississippi River. We couldn’t live in peace with the Native Americans we found there, so we eventually took all their land, killed most of them and put the rest on reservations.
In the 1800’s we fought a civil war that took half million lives because we still had serious disagreements between and among ourselves.
In the last 400 plus years we have discussed, argued, legislated and continue to debate who we are and how we will manage our great nation. We still have major disagreements as evidenced by politics in DC. So here we are, some five hundred plus years later, still working out the details.
But none of this history of the formation and application of our democratic process stops us from thinking that we can introduce tenth century Middle Eastern societies to democracy overnight. We think we can whisk these people through a thousand years of evolution with a democratic election. Afghanistan’s next presidential election is set for April 5, 2014.
Let’s review the last one; From the NY Times in 2010,titled “Afghan Vote Marked by Light Turnout and Violence.” “At least 10 people were killed, scores of polling stations were attacked and hundreds of them apparently never opened.” “Even where there was no shooting, turnout appeared to be unusually light. Many polling centers were largely empty for most of the day.” “The presidential election last year was so fraud-ridden that nearly a quarter of the votes were thrown out, the recounting dragged on for months, and accusations of electoral malfeasance by President Hamid Karzai’s campaign drove a rift between his government and the United States that has yet to heal. This year, the Taliban are stronger than they were last year, and they have waged a campaign of intimidation and violence aimed at derailing the election.” “By 10:30 a.m., as bullets whizzed overhead and grenades exploded nearby, only 27 voters had cast their ballots there (Marja).” In Kabul, “Right here there are almost zero voters, and a thousand observers, it’s ridiculous,” said Abdul Hadi, an observer for a candidate.
But we keep plowing money in and losing precious lives.
Maureen Dowd of the NY Times once wrote a column posing the issue of how the Stone Age socks modernity. I can offer this: Simplicity! We look at them through the prism of complexity, failing to see how black and white their world looks to them.
We live in a complex world. They live in a simple world. Our world has many shades of gray. Theirs is black and white. We have the nuances of relativism. They have the clarity of absolutism.
After the British and the Russians, we are now mired in these tribal lands masquerading as a nation. We should do what we did in Viet Nam, get the hell out of there and use the billions saved on our own problems.
So while we think we’re introducing democracy to an ancient culture, “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” an American official told the Times, “was the United States.”
That’s the corruption funded by the CIA with our tax money.