Five years after toppling the fanatical Taliban, Hamid Karzai is expected
to sign an agreement for economic assistance from more than 60 donor countries.
The Afghanistan Compact is just the latest of many plans to restore security
to the war-torn nation and revive the fragile economy. It is a poignant reminder
that the Bush administration's promises to rebuild the country and establish
democracy have never been realized.
Afghanistan has been a policy disaster from the get-go. The country is ravaged
by war and unemployment, security beyond the capital of Kabul is virtually nonexistent,
and malnutrition rates among children are higher than they are anywhere other
than sub-Saharan Africa. Now, Karzai, who has seen his funding from the US slashed
year after year, is forced to take his begging bowl to the world community;
asking for the crumbs they can spare to bandage his failed-state together.
Afghanistan excels in one thing alone; the production and export of opium,
a booming business which now provides 90% of the world's heroin.
Is this what Bush had in mind when he promised Americans to rebuild and democratize
the battle-scarred country; a modern-day drug-colony, occupied by legions of
indifferent volunteers who rarely venture beyond their US controlled compounds?
His promise of a Marshall Plan was similar to all of Bush's promises; just
more hot air hissssssing from a punctured tire.
After overthrowing the Taliban Bush made this commitment to the people of Afghanistan:
"We know that true peace will only be achieved when we give the Afghan
people the means to achieve their own aspirationsWe're working hard in Afghanistan.
We're clearing minefields. We're rebuilding roads. We're improving medical care.
And we will work to help Afghanistan to develop an economy that can feed its
people without feeding the world's demand for drugsBy helping to build an Afghanistan
that is free from this evil and is a better place in which to live, we are working
in the best traditions of George Marshall. Marshall knew that our military victory
against enemies in World War II had to be followed by a moral victory that resulted
in better lives for individual human beings."
"Marshall Plan?" "Building roads?" "Improving medical
care?" "Developing the economy?"
Bush's penchant for hyperbole has not been lost on the Afghani people.
"The new Afghan government promised us new schools, clinics, water pumps,
but it has done nothing at all. People are so disappointed. At least the Taliban
would grade the roads, build madras's, while this government has done nothing,"
said Nyamatullah, Zabul tribal leader.
"This government has done nothing" is a fitting summary of the Afghanistan
failure. The Bush administration had no intention of rebuilding or democratizing
the country, rather the full thrust of the American effort has been to paper-over
the obvious deficiencies of the policy with glowing media reports. The western
media has done an impressive job in convincing the American people that progress
is being made in Afghanistan when, in fact, the country continues to languish
in destitution and chaos.
On a recent trip, Secretary Rumsfeld said that Afghanistan was "a model"
of a growing democracy.
The majority of the new Afghan Parliament is comprised of warlords and ex-Taliban
fighters reintegrated into the system by a reconciliation program endorsed by
the United States. This has weakened the central government and ensured that
the countryside has remained under the control of the regional warlords. American
puppet, Karzai has no power beyond the capital and must be protected by 40 to
50 U.S. paid bodyguards wherever he goes.
Is this Rumsfeld's model of democracy?
Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is equally disingenuous in her praise
of Afghanistan's strides towards democracy:
"The transformation of Afghanistan is remarkable but incomplete, and it
is essential that we all increase our support for the Afghan people."
There's been no "transformation" of Afghanistan. As the New York
Times reports, "Afghanistan does not have a viable economy. Its government
is largely reliant on foreign aid (while) it struggles with an insurgency"
"The country of 25 million people has some of the worst economic and health
indicators in the world. 6 million people rely on food aid, 80% of the people
are illiterate, and there is virtually no industry."
In the last year the resurgent Taliban have increased their attacks, further
destabilizing areas in the south and prompting President Karzai to publicly
announce that he would provide amnesty for Taliban chieftain Mullah Omar.
Have him "get in touch" if he wants to talk peace, Karzai said.
Karzai's remarks show us how far we have come from the swagger and bravado
of George Bush who promised to capture Omar "dead or alive"? Now even
Bin Laden's closest allies are being offered amnesty in an effort to quell the
What does that say about the administration's claim that "We will never
bargain with terrorists"?
Afghanistan is Bush's dystopia, a failed narco-state run by American
puppets, Islamic fundamentalists and human rights abusers. The corporate media
has done the American people a grave disservice by characterizing this drug-dependent
settlement as a burgeoning democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Karzai regime has no popular mandate and will vanish in the first hours
after the American occupation ends.
And, it should end immediately.
Like Iraq, American troops have become the catalyst for hostilities; the focus
of blame for the country's grim predicament. The recent incident of American
servicemen burning the corpses of dead Taliban soldiers has only exacerbated
the tensions that exist between the native Muslims and the Christian occupiers.
The cultural divisions, and the violence they incite, are the inevitable upshot
of the imperial project.
The invasion of Afghanistan was sold to the American people by a silver-tongued
executive and a battery of public relations fraudsters. 5 years later we can
see that all the hype about "democratic revolution" and "liberation"
was just baseless twaddle. The country is a basket-case and "ranks among
the half-dozen poorest countries in the world". "with the highest
level of malnutrition in the world at 70%." (Jim Lobe)
This is Bush's definition of success; endless bloodshed surrounded by grinding
The Bush administration will never rebuild Afghanistan. In fact, they are ideologically
opposed to "nation building" as a waste of revenue that can be siphoned
off to multinational corporations. So, too, they are against any form of governance
that does not conform to the economic diktats of the central banks and their
satellites at the IMF, World Bank, and the Federal Reserve.
Afghanistan illustrates the shortcomings of a foreign policy that depends entirely
on war to achieve its objectives. Neither peace nor security can be achieved
under occupation. America needs to withdraw its troops so that sovereignty can
be restored, order can be reestablished, and the long march towards economic
recovery can begin.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached