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– AFGHAN REVIEW

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In 1970 the American historian Barbara W. Tuchman published her book “Stilwell and the American Experience in China”. The book is a biography of the USA four stars General Joe (Vinegar) Stilwell, who served in China on and off from 1913 up to 1945and also a description of the American relations between USA and the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang Kai-shek was described by many in America as the only man who could unite China, to bring democracy, to be the last obstacle to further Japanese expansion and, eventually, the last barrier to a communist takeover of China..

But in 1945 it was completely clear, even to the most enthusiastic supporters of Chiang Kai-shek in USA, that he was actually a fascist dictator, cared only about his own political survival and indifferent to the welfare of the Chinese people and his regime was completely incompetent in all domains but corruption. The only extraordinary skill of Chiang Kai-shek’s regime was to suck more and more sources from USA allegedly in order to “fight” the Japanese or the communists. The only reason USA continued to support Chiang Kai-shek was that there was no way to by-pass him and there was no alternative in China but the communists. 

If we replace the name Chiang Kai-shek with Hamid Karzai, China with Afghanistan and the communists with the Taliban – the book is also a fair description (but not an identical description) of the dilemmas USA and its allies face in Afghanistan. There is no way to by-pass Hamid Karzai’s grip on the Afghan politics and society and there is no alternative but the Taliban.

It seems that for the moment the tendency of NATO and USA to round the corners is to dictate, pressure, patronize and educate Hamid Karzai to “behave himself” (see – Without Legitimacy ).

 * On Sunday 11/15/2009, Hilary Clinton said in an interview with ABC News from Singapore that Hamid Karzai “must do better” if he wanted USA support and that included creating a major crimes tribunal and anti-corruption commission. Clinton also said she had made it very clear, for example, that the United States would not provide civilian aid to Afghanistan’s government unless there was “certification” that it went through ministries that could be held accountable. 

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 * On Thursday 11/12/2009, the American envoy to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry wrote to the White House to oppose sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan. President Karzai’s government should first prove it would tackle corruption – he said

* Barack Obama, the USA president, gave an interview to ABC, on Wednesday 11/11/2009, and managed to talk about Afghanistan without using the words “president,” “Karzai” or “election”. Instead, Obama, who is intensively reviewing a proposal to increase USA military presence in that country, said his administration was looking for new people in Afghanistan to talk to.

* On Friday 11/06/2009, UK PM Gordon Brown held a special speech in the British Parliament on his government strategy in Afghanistan and said, among other things, that he will not put UK troops “in harm’s way for a government that does not stand up against corruption” (see – Browns Speech ).

The mentioned above are just a sample.  

 Taliban cannot understand the accumulation of those statements but as a total confusion, a decreasing of support and legitimacy to Hamid Karzai’s regime and as initial signs that the Western powers are considering a pullout from Afghanistan. Whatever the strategy in Afghanistan will be it is already undermined by too many and too premature statements.  

* Related topics – 

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