The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


With friends like these…

Time for this week’s news quiz: Which head-of-state recently said that the west and the United Nations attempted to perpetrate fraud in last year’s Afghan presidential election?

Hint: It’s the same person that said that the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan is coming close to being seen as an invading force, giving the Taliban insurgency legitimacy as a natural resistance, and that he would join the Taliban if the president of Afghanistan was not permitted to assume control of that country’s Electoral Complaints Commission from the United Nations?

Sounds like someone with a deep-seated hostility—even hatred—towards the United States. Might it be Iran’s America-bashing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? While he certainly does not wish America well anywhere in the world, Ahmadinejad was not the source of this particular diatribe. Perhaps it was Hugo Chavez, who never misses an opportunity to needle Yanqi imperialism? Not him, either. Well then, it must have been Osama bin Laden in one of his recent audiotape messages. Wrong again. Give up?

It was none other than Hamid Karzai.

Karzai? No way! Isn’t he the president of Afghanistan, the country whose people the U.S.-led military forces freed from the repressive Taliban more than eight years ago, enabling Karzai to become, by hook or by crook (mostly by crook) that country’s leader?

Doesn’t he govern a nation being rebuilt, top-to-bottom, by untold billions of American dollars? Isn’t he the corrupt ruler who, despite allying himself with some of the country’s most notorious warlords, would likely be overthrown either by his erstwhile allies or the Taliban within months, if not weeks, without the support of American and allied troops?

Unfortunately it was, indeed, Karzai, whose harangue against his benefactors seems to cast doubt as to his reliability in the fight against terror. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

In 2004, after it was reported that American soldiers headed to Iraq were often not being equipped with the latest and best armor, a serviceman queried then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a Q and A session about that less-than-ideal situation. Rumsfeld famously replied that, “You go to war with the Army you have, not with the Army you wish you had.” It seems that the same can be said about our wartime allies.

Both in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have had no choice but to cast our lot with some rather unsavory characters. Sure, we would love to have the next Nelson Mandela emerge to inspire his Afghan or Iraqi countrymen with benevolent governance and noble pronouncements about a brighter future. Unfortunately, it seems that the best we can come up with are folks like Nouri Al-Maliki in Iraq and Karzai in Afghanistan, the latter of whose brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is reportedly involved in one of the largest heroin-distribution operations in southern Afghanistan (and you thought Billy Carter was a problem brother).

So what are we to do with Karzai? Wouldn’t threatening to withdraw our troops unless he relaxes his western-aimed invective get his attention? Probably not.

First, he knows that we would be bluffing. As Alex Their, a much-respected Afghan analyst recently noted, “There are no better angels about to descend on Afghanistan.” Put another way, as much as we may dislike this guy, his replacement will probably be even worse.

Moreover, Karzai knows that we know that sobering fact, robbing us of whatever leverage over him we otherwise might have.

Second, the far bigger picture dictates that we quietly work with Karzai and his cronies to work out whatever differences we may have rather than engage in counterproductive public jousting. Remember why we are in Afghanistan with a force soon to number (not counting our allies’ contributions) one hundred thousand. We are there not to be Karzai’s enabler, though that appears to have been the invasion’s unavoidable by-product, but, after having removed from power the Taliban and its cohorts—including Al-Qaeda, which perpetrated 9/11—to prevent them from re-establishing a terrorist sanctuary and training base in that country. In other words, we have committed our money and manpower to that far away and inhospitable land to safeguard this country from attack and to protect the freedoms which we hold dear. If we need to suffer rogues like Karzai in the process, so be it, though it would be most helpful were he to get serious about building the foundations of a stable and less-corrupt government which will play an even larger role than military might in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan populace and keeping the Taliban at bay.

With Karzai, however, it appears we’ll have to take whatever we can get.

If it is any consolation, throughout its wartime history America has had to join forces with far more heinous allies. A prime example occurred during the Second World War, which saw America partner not only with democratic Great Britain and its great wartime prime minister but with communism as well, as represented by the Soviet Union and its tyrannical leader, Joseph Stalin, who may have been responsible for even more deaths than the epitome of evil against whom we formed a coalition of convenience. Compared to Stalin, Karzai is a paragon of virtue.

If we survived Stalin, no doubt we can make do with Karzai. But he does make one hark back to the good old days when the CIA was in the coup-engineering business.

Nathan Mitzner is a junior risk management insurance major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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