Has the West backed the right man in Afghanistan?

karzai  “Karzai has one of the most difficult jobs imaginable. But what is clear is that he isn’t doing it anywhere near as well as he used to. One can’t help but think that someone who has not had their character changed by the stresses and strains of the job might, at least briefly, do better and be better for Afghanistan.”

That’s the case from the Spectator for why Hamid Karzai must lose Thursday’s election. Five years ago, Mr. Karzai was brought in to help rebuild a broken country. Today, Afghanistan has seen little change. Liberating the women of Afghanistan was one of the regime’s objectives. Yesterday that objective was considered by many to have been crushed when a controversial law allowing women to be raped and starved if they do not have sex with their husbands was approved.

Campaigning for the Afghan elections has now closed leading to new fears about transparency and corruption on the day of the polls. Successful elections will not just be a sign of success for Karzai, but also for the international community – a justification that millions of pounds worth of aid have been well spent. Should we praise Karzai for even attempting to hold a second presidential election?

Karzai may be leading but that doesn’t guarantee success. And if Karzai’s not our man – who is? Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah is second in the polls. Here’s the lowdown on him. Should we just be working with the Taliban rather than dealing with “interim puppets?”

A “near superhuman task” writes Christian Bose  with some reservations. “The empathetic approach to Karzai has its risks, of course – chief among them that we aren’t tough enough with him, he walks all over us, and then for our trouble we’re perceived by most Afghans as propping up a leader they are increasingly frustrated with. That said, the Obama administration has been pursuing the alternative model, and it may be working out worse. ”

Is up Karzai up to the job or has he had his chance?

25 Responses to “Has the West backed the right man in Afghanistan?”

  1. 1 Ramesh, India
    August 18, 2009 at 11:18

    I don’t care whether this puppet wins or loses. But it is unbelievable to see someone, with western backing, bringing a law that says that Husbands can deny food to their wives, if sex is denied to them.

  2. 2 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 18, 2009 at 12:22

    Karzai is the right choice for the americans even though they ostensibly tap him on the wrist they support him tacitly.

    He is able to bring disparate groups composed of warlords together in a tenuous unity so that there can be limited peace, thus he is achieving the objectives of the americans.

    The notorious General Abdul Rashid Dostum whose men are alleged to have killed hundreds of Taliban POW’s in 2001.
    Mohammad Qasim Fahim a Tajik warlord and the head of the powerful Northern Alliance.
    Other warlords include Hajji Muhammad Moheqiq, Karim Khalili, Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf.

  3. 3 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 18, 2009 at 12:29

    Ramesh, India

    It’s not amazing that Karzai would sign the law. Failure on his part to do that would mean the withdrawal of a significant proportion of his support.

    • 4 Ramesh, India
      August 18, 2009 at 13:12

      What is the difference between Karzai and Talibans then? The Talibans too could say they opprssed women to avoid losing support of men!

  4. 5 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    August 18, 2009 at 12:54

    The problems is not president Karzai nor the West backing but whatever leader/person that sided with West in any free country is seen as a potential traitor who betrayed its people,culture,economy,religion,sociality,politically, country’s resources etc. no matter what.That’s how my statistic has gone so far.

  5. 6 patti in cape coral
    August 18, 2009 at 13:34

    Once again, I am confronted by my own ignorance because of my absolute shock at Ramesh’s statement. It seems to turn marriage into little more than prostitution, and poorly paid prostitution at that. I despair of ever understanding politics!

    • 7 Ramesh, India
      August 18, 2009 at 18:26

      That is exactly what I thought. If I am a woman married to such a man, I would prefer to be a prostitute than be wife of an animal.

  6. 8 scmehta
    August 18, 2009 at 14:06

    When you cannot tell right from the left, the tested and trusted is the best bet.

  7. 9 Henry Nyakoojo, Kampala
    August 18, 2009 at 14:21

    That is a very interesting question: “… if Karzai’s not our man – who is?” On whose behalf is such a question being posed in a WORLD Have Your Say forum? Are we all being lumped together in some group called the west? Should “we” (whoever that includes) be having “our” man winning elections and running the affairs of Afghanistan? The president of Afghanistan is for Afghanis – not for the world; and I would consider it insulting if a similar question were asked about my own country.

  8. 10 Jennifer
    August 18, 2009 at 14:23

    I just hope that noone gets their fingers cut off for voting 😦

  9. August 18, 2009 at 14:34

    Has the west G8-G20 UN EU right to be in Afghanistan or back Karzai or
    acquire Afghanistan ‘s resources in double standard world trade Trade without
    accurate Money payments for good received .How is it possible to be called
    Globalization ,Global Economy when some segment of private firms operating
    in Afghanistan one way and telling rest of the world other way with advantage? How World trade forex resource distribution operate in this setup?

  10. August 18, 2009 at 15:01

    President Karzai has had a bumpy ride as President. He has tried to introduce much-needed reform but this has been piece-meal owing to the complexity of issues. The positive measures he has tried to implement have been eclipsed by the gloomy security situation. The Taliban are in the ascendency as they know every inch of the land. The local population are terrorised by the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. Afghanistan is a quagmire and whoever wins the presidential elections would have the thankless task of rebuilding the country from ashes. The Taliban are determined to sabotage the elections and create mayhem. They would like to extend their evil tentacles and sow anarchy. If they succeed the emancipation of women would be a very far cry.
    Pancha Chandra

  11. 13 Tom K in Mpls
    August 18, 2009 at 15:11

    I would have hoped we of the ‘west’ had kept our hands off the situation. The fact that Karzai faces so much opposition from the people and within the government shows putting any resources to change was foolish.

    What I want to know is why do so many people in the world feel it is their duty to force others to embrace their beliefs?

  12. 14 Bert
    August 18, 2009 at 16:17

    I agree with Tom K. From the piece you pointed to on Abdullah background, it’s not clear who the West should hope for. Both seem equally capable of leading and of operating in a global framework. A perfect case for keeping our noses out of it.

    There was an interesting story on Karzai on Al Jazeera (English version). It’s pretty obvious that anyone who stays in office for any length of time has to compromise his initially stated principles. What was all that stuff about “accepting other customs,” that we were supposed to believe in the other blog about the wedding? It applies here too. Karzai has to accept his people’s beliefs, or risk losing their support. That’s why he might appear to have changed.

    In my opinion, Obama is making the same mistake here that Bush made in Iraq. He’s meddling in their affairs with this notion that the West can “build” a nation inhabited by people we simply don’t get. The longer we appear to be occupiers, the more the Afghans seem to favor the Taliban. Time to figure out an extrication strategy, and fast.

  13. 15 gary
    August 18, 2009 at 16:38

    Sorting out Afghanistan would certainly merit a Nobel Prize. I don’t believe Mr. Hamid Karzai, nor any one of your usual respondents, is up to the task. I absolutely am not. However, I do believe the key to this entire issue is development of a honest understanding of the “western-backed” part and not of Mr. Karzai’s supposed failings. I’d like some one to “tell my why” in some logical, non-jingoistic terms.

  14. August 18, 2009 at 17:19

    Thank you very much President Karzai, you have just shattered my fools paradise by passing a law that reduces loving wives to just below the farmyard animals. Perhaps you deserve the Taliban. At least you would not have to waste money on elections,and women would not be any worse off than they are now.

  15. 17 Todd in Atlanta
    August 18, 2009 at 18:01

    The West NEVER backs the right person to rule these disastrous nations. Maybe it should just be accepted as a given that when the U.S. and the rest of the West prop up someone and proclaim that they’re the next best thing for said nation, assume that person to be the worst choice!

    I hate to be so cynical, but the evidence is overwhelming!

  16. 18 T
    August 18, 2009 at 18:40

    Unfortunately, it’s kind of a silly question. We all know that Karzai is a puppet leader put in by the States. If he doesn’t follow orders from Obama, what will happen? Don’t be surprised if he’s overthrown.

    August 18, 2009 at 19:16

    Its quite a gamble when we come to a conclusion that the health of society anywhere depends on the successes of one individual or a section of its society. It is equally damning to talk about democracy while we espouse a predetermined outcome.

    There is evident ignorance by those who back him and those who oppose him or deny the Afghans the existence of a government that has national appeal. Both sides are not about the Afghan society as a whole but are rather on what they have invested for their selfish interests.

    Free and fare? No. The majority of the Afghan Talibans won’t vote and the country is voting ‘under the gun’ whether you are talking about the Talibans or the backers of the current government. Each is addressing their own interests.

  18. 20 Sine D'here
    August 18, 2009 at 19:43

    Of course there are pros and cons but having someone elses expensive to run military on ones home soil provides a huge benifit to the host country… as long as sovereignty is otherwise maintained. IMHO

  19. 21 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 03:32

    Ramesh, India

    You are very perceptive. There is no difference between the Taliban and the warlords inclusive of Karzai.

    The only difference is one side has decided to follow the dictates of the US which exempts them from being labelled terrorists.

  20. 22 Tan Boon Tee
    August 19, 2009 at 03:53

    No matter who is or will be the president, as long as he toes the line of the west, the west would not fail to back him.

    At the moment, the nation is infested with corrupts and cronies, each aiming to fulfill self-interest as the top priority. So, how could the nation NOT degrade or deteriorate further?

    In fact, one might even doubt the usefulness and practicality of the presidential election.

  21. 23 T
    August 19, 2009 at 04:11

    Doesn’t it seem odd that the States are putting so much manpower and moneyn into improving Afghanistan. Let’s build them roads and schools where women can study safely. The Taliban were responsible for 9/11.

    No they weren’t. And what about improving infrastructure in the States? How come that doesn’t count?

  22. 24 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 12:28

    @Tan Boon Tee
    August 19, 2009 at 03:53
    No matter who is or will be the president, as long as he toes the line of the west, the west would not fail to back him.

    That’s a correct statement!

    @ T
    August 19, 2009 at 04:11
    The Taliban were responsible for 9/11.
    No they weren’t.

    I myself am becoming ambivalent and suspicious of the 9/11 attack, because certain aspects make no sense. Looking back now ,at that time I was younger and more naive accepting anything thrown to me by the mainstream Western media as gospel truth. Knowing what I know now demands that I do some investigation into the whole issue.

  23. 25 Dennis Junior
    August 19, 2009 at 17:09

    I think that the West is backing the world (candidate) in the forthcoming election in Afghanistan….

    =Dennis Junior=

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