It’s entirely fitting that Russia is now profiting on the West’s geopolitical bloodletting in Afghanistan, considering the tragic ironies that have haunted the past thirty-two consecutive years of brutality since the Communist coup in April of 1978.
From peddling arms to the Western-backed Afghan National Police, to cashing in on rights of air and land passage for U.S. and NATO re-supply missions, Moscow is taking joyful advantage of the American-led coalition’s increasingly hopeless predicament.
The windfall comes two decades after the Russians staunched their own Soviet-era “bleeding wound” in Afghanistan.
No doubt Vladimir Putin is fuming over American diplomatic slurs about the “virtual mafia state” that is the Kremlin’s domain.
But he and his former KGB colleagues can laugh that off, consoled by the knowledge that the U.S. and NATO have now surpassed the Red Army’s disastrous nine-year sojourn in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and with far less to show for their trouble.
When General Boris Gromov completed the withdrawal of his combat forces in February of 1989, the Soviets left behind a ruthlessly determined Communist president, Mohammad Najibullah.
“The Ox”, as he was known, clung to power by way of a battle hardened, quarter-million strong Afghan military that held off the U.S.-backed mujahideen guerrillas for more than three years.
By contrast, Washington and its allies are coping with a troublesome and rebellious quisling in Hamid Karzai, who is routinely written up by top U.S. diplomats as a paranoid incompetent.
Even before this past week’s Wikileaks revelations, Karzai had been exposed as a weak link, whose family and closest supporters are busy about the tasks of looting Western aid, trafficking heroin and preparing lavish foreign bolt-holes for their eventual abandonment of Afghanistan and the Afghan people.
Certainly those of us who interviewed Najibullah recognized him as a cruel tin-pot dictator. Still, he made a credible attempt at converting the Kremlin’s material support into a viable regime.
Karzai and his cronies have systematically squandered Western military and humanitarian aid, while shredding any semblance of legitimacy through ballot fraud and their continuing intimidation of electoral officials.
In the hands of Karzai & Company, democracy has become a dirty word in Southwest Asia.
How did it come to this for the U.S.-led coalition of nations?
The historical record, as confirmed by the Wikileaks file of diplomatic cables, paints a picture of a stumbling multinational giant, hopelessly confused by the complexities of Afghanistan, and consumed by the futile political imperative of hiding the truth from restive voters back home.
Witness the case of Karzai’s younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. For years the West’s political and diplomatic brass have known “The Kingpin of Kandahar” to be a corrupt, grasping bully.
“While we must deal with AWK as the head of the Provincial Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.”
That’s an excerpt from a cable describing a senior U.S. diplomat’s September 28, 2009 meeting with Wali Karzai. The cable concludes with this nugget:
“The meeting with AWK highlights one of our major challenges in Afghanistan: how to fight corruption and connect the people to their government, when the key government officials are themselves corrupt.”
Another U.S. cable describes a February, 2010 meeting with Wali Karzai:
“AWK was eager to engage and rarely stopped talking in the two hour meeting. While he presented himself as a partner to the United States and is eager to be seen as helping the coalition, he also demonstrated that he will dissemble when it suits his needs.
“He appears not to understand the level of our knowledge of his activities, and that the coalition views many of his activities as malign, particularly relating to his influence over the police.”
Yes, that’s the same Afghan National Police the Russians are now arming - indirectly, at least, courtesy of Western taxpayers.
The salient point, however, is this: these recent diplomatic cables were preceded by years of similar reports to the national capitals of the U.S.-led coalition.
The reports were kept secret and covered up with bumptious PR celebrating the Karzai regime, all in the vain attempt to prevent public support for the coalition collapsing altogether.
A Canadian Foreign Affairs officer tells Skyreporter:
“Regarding drugs and drug-runners, I remember (in 2005) asking the U.S. ‘Drug Czar’, as he was referred to quite openly, when they were going to bring all the evidence on Ahmad Wali Karzai to light and use him as a high profile example that we were getting tough on the trade.
“His answer was ‘when we no longer need him.’”
The official referred to is Doug Wankel, the former Counter Narcotics Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Wankel’s comment five long years ago begs the question: does the Obama administration and its allies still need Ahmed Wali Karzai, the criminal Kingpin of Kandahar?
Or his half-brother in the Presidential Palace?
Or the elder empire-building Karzais, Mahmoud and Qayoom?
We know where Vladimir Putin stands on the matter. Because the Karzai clan suits Putin and his regime right down to the bloody ground in Afghanistan.