Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Friends in Afghanistan

From NYT report:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The C.I.A. denies this, of course.

“No intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these kind of allegations,” said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.

Mr Gimigliano should be aware that I have, for quite some time, been thinking that we should refer to his organization as the C.A.

We really have no idea what we're doing here, do we?

The one thing that we can be assured of is that the locals know we have money, and they are running rings around us while we try to figure out who is on who's side, and where all the money is ending up, and what the hell is going on. Because we really have no idea.

The locals always hold all the cards. And when the locals are prepared to fight to the death (at the same time we've decided that our newest goal is to reduce violence and increase security), they have us entirely over a barrel.

There is just no conceivable way that this war, or counter-insurgency, or counter-terrorism, or nation-building, or whatever we've decided to call it this week is going to turn out well.

Remember that, when people say we have to stay there, or escalate, because it will be bad if we leave. Because it's going to be bad no matter what. That train left the station a long time ago. The question now is whether we're going to throw live troops after dead, and good money after bad.

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