Posts Tagged ‘Abdul Rashid Dostum’

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New FoundationThe Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.

My previous post intentionally left out mentions of Senator John Kerry’s defense of Ahmed Wali Karzai–the drug-dealing, election stealing, possibly Taliban-connected brother of the Afghan president–in an attempt to keep the piece to a manageable length. Boy, am I sorry I did that…today’s New York Times contains an article by Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti, James Risen and Helene Cooper that shows AWK is a CIA asset.

According to Andrew Exum (a.k.a., Abu Muqwama, h/t Steve Hynd), AWK is no run-of-the-mill petty criminal:

[N]umerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face — bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. …[Y]ou can be darn sure that if we think that AWK is the CIA’s guy, the Afghans most certainly believe that to be the case.

CIA’s certainly not earning any new friends in the intel sandbox. Military intelligence officials, for example, seem blindsided (or are feigning shock in the passive-aggressive manner typical of rival government agencies). From the NYT piece:

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

…“The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” General Flynn said.

Tut, tut, general. You might want to check with your superiors before you run with that line of argument. Your “population-centric counterinsurgency” is propping up a whole government full of thugs like Mohaqiq, Fahim and Khalili (the latter two being Hamid Karzai’s vice-presidential nominees in the ongoing election!), not to mention General Abdul Rashid Dostum, all of whom got amnesty for their war crimes thanks to a measure Mohaqiq rammed through the Afghan parliament in the early days of the government. Next time, try to get outraged before we spend billions training a security apparatus at the thugs’ disposal, k?

Feigned pearl-clutch! faint! routines aside, this is a horrifying development for any attempt by the U.S. government to earn consent for the U.S.-backed Kabul cartel from the Pashtuns through a counterinsurgency campaign. AWK allegedly ran an operation that delivered huge numbers of fraudulent votes for his brother in the Pashtun heartland, and the locals knew it. Does anyone in Washington understand what a setback we’ll suffer when the population we’re trying to win over from the Taliban realizes that the person who stole their votes was on the CIA payroll?

The revelation about AWK’s CIA ties shows just how lost in the Afghan labyrinth American policymakers are. It’s a labyrinth of glittering generalities, wishful thinking, India/Pakistan gamesmanship, corruption, inter-agency competition and policies working at cross-purposes with one another.  It’s no wonder it’s taken six policy reviews and 10 months for some of the smartest people on the planet to form the basic outlines of even a misguided path forward. Funny thing about the labyrinth in Greek mythology: it’s not designed to keep you out. It’s designed to keep you in.

The New York Times pegs the original sin of the U.S. policy in Afghanistan:

In hindsight, several current and former administration officials say they have come to believe the decision to turn a blind eye to the warlords and drug traffickers who took advantage of the power vacuum in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was one of the fundamental strategic mistakes of the Afghan war.

Someone will have to explain to me how we’re not compounding the error by pursuing a continued counterinsurgency campaign aimed at protecting from the Taliban a government comprised of the above-mentioned warlords and drug traffickers. NYT’s Helene Cooper and Carlotta Gall, emphasis mine:

Administration officials have routinely complained of Karzai’s failure to crack down on corruption and the drug trafficking fueling the insurgency.

Should Karzai win, either outright or in a second round, Obama administration officials could find a president in Afghanistan who has engaged in so much deal-making that he may be even more beholden to warlords than before.

Warlords and drug lords like Mohammed Qasim Fahim, Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq and Abdul Rashid Dostum dominate the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. They’re one of several reasons why the government on whose behalf we’re fighting a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is not worth another American dime or drop of blood. (Stay tuned for a continuation of my series, “Meet Your Afghan Warlords,” to learn more about the thugs dominating Karzai’s regime.)

President Obama’s election was hailed by progressives as a bright, shining opportunity for the U.S. to regain its moral standing in the world. That’s not going to happen without a radical reordering of U.S. objectives and strategies in Afghanistan. As long as we continue to hold to the Bush-era assumption that terrorism requires a military response, we’ll remain in bed with thugs like these.

Get our troops out of Afghanistan.