He's right, you know.
Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai wants "foreign powers" to butt-out of the country's internal affairs. "Stop meddling" according to the Associated Press report today by Amir Shah.
Karzai has a point. One wonders how that could become a reality with U.S. and allied troops "conducting" a war in that country. I say conducting because we are absolutely NOT "fighting" a war there. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
We are conducting military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas as a maintenance program of global control, political realignment, and resource allocation. Arguably, the United States hasn't "fought" a war to win it since WWII. We have, for over 50 years now, been witness to the "military industrial complex" that former president Dwight Eisenhower considered in his final presidential speech in 1961. In that speech, Eisenhower discussed the need for balance in all of our endeavors as a free nation and global power.
But back to Karzai. He is correct that the U.S. is meddling in the so-called elections that take place in Afghanistan. No doubt this is a continuation of George W. Bush's idiotic efforts back in 2003 to make "democracy-building" a key component of the U.S.'s military adventures in the Middle East. Even former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a man I have long admired, parroted that misguided policy when he stated to students at City College of New York in 2003, "dictators and despots can build walls high enough to keep out armies, but not high enough to keep those winds from blowing in."
Powell was referring to "winds" of democracy. I say that was all rhetorical winds of horsecrap.
The notion that the United States, or any other western country can sprinkle the fairy dust of democratic tradition on non-democratic countries is simply stupid at face value. Ask yourselves how democracy (as we know it) could possibly be implemented in China, for example, where thousands of years of dynastic cycles moulded a world view that does not place emphasis on individuality, but upholds traditions of familial precepts.
Ask yourselves how tribesmen and others of any country who's name ends in "stan" could comprehend, let alone embrace, a political system and voting process that requires at least the appearance that its citizens are a nation of self-thinkers, able to make logical decisions about their political destiny.
No. Their cultures, ethnic traditions, religious practices, and "world" views preclude that.
In a country that dips voters' fingers in purple ink to prevent voter fraud, that's just not possible. Then, again, maybe we should look at the purple finger technique in places like, oh I dunno, Florida.
But Karzai has a point. If we're not willing to fight a war against the demonstrated evils of the Taliban; if we are willing to tip toe around the poppy seeds of negotiations with them; if we cannot take on the responsibilities of occupation and rebuilding that country from inside out and back again, then I say get out. Get out and let Karzai play with the fires of hundreds of years of tribal backtracking.
The world will always have despots and dictators. Most will be brutal and ruthless. A few will come to be know as "benevolent dictators". ( Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew comes to mind).
I'll play devil's advocate here: Some cultures, some societies, NEED a dictator to keep control of what might otherwise be an even more brutish and intolerable existence. Votes and purple fingers won't make it all better.
Democracy is an ideal that had institutional beginnings with the Indian sanghas (associations) and ganas (councils) in the sixth century BCE, with the Greek city states of Athens and Sparta, and to some extent throughout the centuries of the Roman Republic.
But these days, 21st Century United States has no business trying to whip a little democracy on everyone else as a cover for other motives, whatever they may be. We could have marched into Afghanistan with guns blazing, defeated the Taliban, propped up Karzai (or anyone else) as our puppet leader, and MAYBE we would have effected positive change. Though I seriously doubt it.
However, as previously mentioned, we are one of the world's military maintenance machines, manipulating the masses and keeping global order.
Yet, I believe our country in particular, and the world in general, would be better served if enough citizens and leaders would review and take to heart Eisenhower's words in 1961. Especially the part about balance.
That will never happen.
The Karzai's of the world will mollify our policy makers while seeking to negotiate with madness. They will point purple fingers in the air and in our face to say that corruption is under control, and that we have succeeded in guiding them from the depths of their long hell.
And, we can all live with an "acceptable" level of fear and anxiety. We can all be kept in our reasonable places with meaningless dialectics providing an illusion that the world is being made a safer and saner place. We can all believe that the world wants to be just like us (U.S.): Free, prosperous, and happy.
Karzai's right. Purple fingers notwithstanding.
Rick B. Baker
January 4, 2011
Note: Coinciding poem published on "Efficient Agony", 1-4-11.
© 2011 by R. Burnett Baker
Purple fingers photo from Muslims Against Sharia / CNN August 23, 2009.
Karzai photo from www.guardian.co.UK.
Tank cartoon by Graeme MacKay, "Hamilton Spectator", Hamilton, Ontario.