The Corruption Conundrum
Corruption is more and more being built up as our greatest problem in Afghanistan. It’s all over the newspapers and the TV. At the epi-center of this corruption, the Kabul Bank we helped create and maintain has run aground and there’s talk in the air of a financial bail-out.
Meanwhile, the $250 million commission created to buy off Taliban fighters is “almost dead,” according to a top Afghan official at the commission. We have no trouble giving US tax dollars to the government and banking system in Afghanistan, but we can’t seem to get the Taliban to take our money.
“In Kabul, politics is all about money,” a prominent Afghan businessman recently told New York Times reporters in a story on the political connections between President Hamid Karzai and the Kabul Bank. It seems the bank gave $14 million for Karzai’s re-election after he agreed to name a bank shareholder’s brother – the fearsome Tajik General Muhammad Fahim -- as his vice presidential candidate.
Afghan and US leaders are concerned the Kabul Bank mess could unravel the government of Afghanistan. It’s a sticky matter for the US, since it helped create both the Afghan government and the Kabul Bank when it invaded in 2001. Our government has a major capital investment in the whole shebang. Our CIA, military and other US agencies have been hosing in US funds for years.
The who’s who of corruption
At this juncture, it’s worth reminding ourselves what’s really going on here. About a year ago, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. She apparently knows Brzezinski’s daughter, so it was a loose, friendly conversation. Maddow earnestly asked Brzezinski to comment on the corruption in Afghanistan. Brzezinski paused, then chuckled.
“But Rachel. What about the corruption in Washington?”
It was one of those unplanned remarks that suddenly flung open locked doors and shuttered windows. Yeh, what about the corruption in Washington, the town the infamous Philly Congressman Ozzie Myers summed up this way: “In this town, money talks and bullshit walks.”
So why should we be aghast, after invading and occupying Afghanistan, to find out “politics is all about money” in Afghanistan?
The greasing of the wheels of politics in Washington is certainly more sophisticated and smoother than it is in Kabul. But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s all part of the same cesspool. Utilizing their best natural instincts, our loyal allies in Kabul have used our guidance and US tax dollar generosity to create an incredible infrastructure of mutual back-scratching and power-sharing. They also lined up some really cool villas in Dubai.