Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Equal Opportunity, No Shame, No Blame

Cash received and gratefully, gracefully accepted.  The New York Times has it from an inside source.  Well, of course they do.  Not that this is new news, so to speak.  But it still manages to issue a bit of a shock, nonetheless.  After all, NATO is there, in Afghanistan, at the stated wish and continued invitation - entreaty, more like it - of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  He insists that NATO remain as long as possible, to ensure that the dreaded Taliban not complete its re-invasion of the country and remove him and his warlord-comprised cabinet from power.

Mr. Karzai feels he can live with accepting mid-level Taliban into the fold, buying their allegiance, and sharing governance with them, as long as he is permitted to remain the chief executive.  For he knows that NATO will not forever remain in Afghanistan, since many nations are in the process of withdrawing their forces, with clear end-dates inscribed in the dead lead of intention.  This is not a popular war for the countries of the West that have dedicated treasury and worse, the lives of their young men and women in their dedication to ease the plight of Afghanistan.

But yes, Hamid Karzai says, not quite meekly-defensively, Iran has and continues to hand over bags of cash.  Iran, after all, is a neighbour and as such represents a 'friendly country'.  NATO countries do not consider Iran to be particularly friendly in intent and purpose, ascribing to it support for the Taliban, in training and in IED-parts supply.  IEDs, in fact, have been more responsible for more deaths and injuries among NATO troops than actual clashes with the Taliban.

And the Taliban, as it happens, despite almost a decade of NATO presence in the country, have succeeded in taking back greater portions of the country than ever before.  Thanks in large part to Pakistan's aid and encouragement; another friendly country, both to Afghanistan and to NATO.  But to put the cash into perspective, it should be understood, insists Mr. Karzai, that "The government of Iran assists (my) office with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice a year, which is official aid."  So that's all right, then; it's official aid, assisting Mr. Karzai's office, you see.

And no Iranians are dying, blown up by IEDs in the process.  Only NATO troops, whose governments are shelling out millions upon millions in support of Afghan infrastructure, civic improvements, health and education, judicial and policing services, training for the Afghan military.  "This is transparent, this is something that I have discussed even with (former) president George (W.) Bush, nothing is hidden, the same thing ... it does give bags of money, yes, it's all the same."  Same, same as what?  Oh yes, the 'same' as the bags of cash the U.S. was giving out to Afghan war lords.

"Cash payments are done by various friendly countries to help the presidential office to help expenses in various ways to help the employees around here, and people outside.  We will continue to ask for cash from Iran."  Help is indeed a wonderful attribute; everyone could use more of it.  For their part, Iran denies, denies, denies.  "Such baseless rumours are spread by some Western media with the aim of harming growing relations between the two neighbours and friendly countries", claims Iran's embassy spokesman.

What 'friendly', willing dupes NATO countries are.  Never indoctrinated in the cleverly underhanded tribal jealousies and animosities and alliances, completely ignorant of such potentials.  Invested with the humanitarian need to aid an embattled, poverty-stricken, socially backward, religiously constricted country from returning to a safe haven for Terror Central, allowing itself to be milked as a clueless responder to desperate need. 

Rapacious greed characterizes both the official Afghan administration and the Taliban alike. Each benefits from corruption, from the sale of the ubiquitous poppy crops, from demanding cash from 'friendly' neighbours and from NATO defenders.  All the sacrifices by the West on behalf of that medieval-minded patriarchy prepared to turn full circle with the departure of Western support and international aid agencies will see the country return to the dark ages that still fits it so comfortably.

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