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Do The Millions Of Dollars In Bribes To Afghan Warlords Get Sequestered Too?

Posted by DownWithTyranny on May 1st, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

What do you know… the same cheerleaders for the disastrous war in Iraq, the endless, draining occupation of Afghanistan and the intervention in Libya are the very same people and special interests urging– demanding– that we attack Syria. Israeli dreams coming true! And believe me, Lindsey Graham and John McCain don’t give a rat’s ass that the new CBS/NY Times poll shows that the majority of Americans– across the political spectrum– don’t want anything to do with the mess in Syria.

Sixty-two percent of Americans continue to say the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria, while 24 percent of Americans think the United States does have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups there– a four point increase since last month.

These are the same people who think the only way the GOP can defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016 is by inventing and perpetuating a false narrative called “Benghazi!” when intervention in Syria would, in all likelihood, make the Libya mess look positively utopian in comparison. Exactly two months ago I suggested that Obama call a plebiscite to get direction from the American people– instead of the Military-Industrial Complex special interests, Israel and their shills– on what to do about Syria. At the time, an always disgruntled McCain was bitching to the press (about Kerry’s announcement that the U.S. would send “non-lethal” aid to the Syria insurgents): “It’s a half measure. And I know from my sources that many of those weapons [provided by other countries in] are not getting through… are going to the wrong people, these jihadist outfits. And here we are 23 months into it, 70,000 dead, so it’s a small half-measure.” But Republicans in Congress are a hot mess and pulling in a million directions. Rubio joined Lindsey Graham in demanding the Administration start sending weapons to Syria, while House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon muttered darkly that arming groups “doesn’t work very well for us. At some point, they start using bullets to shoot back at us.”

Aside from the Likud, AIPAC and a bunch of crackpot evangelicals who want to bring Jesus back, who wants to see Americans fighting in Syria (or against Syria’s ally, Iran)?

Are there any “good guys” in this civil war? I heard Mouaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, yelling at that time that the U.S. should stop measuring the beards of the fighters and just arm them. That means– stop trying to figure out who’s a terrorist and who isn’t. And he’s right… about that. Ultimately, they’re almost ALL terrorists, at least by the U.S. definition. Any weapons or resources the U.S. gives these people will be eventually used against the U.S. and against Israel, (which is now illegally drilling for gas in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights). That’s a knowable known, to paraphrase one of Chuck Hagel’s recent predecessors even if there is no strategy and the U.S. is riding a tiger.

And in light of the Austerity agenda being imposed on the country by the Republicans and Obama’s conservative wing of the Democratic Party, we have a right to ask for an analysis of how things have gone in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya before we take the plunge into Syria, potentially the most devastating of all. I would love that analysis to be in the form of war crimes trials for Bush, Cheney, McCain, and their cronies. But that’s not going to happen. So why not just look throw one of hundreds of tiny little windows into what have happened over in the Middle East since someone seems to have given the Likud the keys to the family car. At the NY Times< this week, Matthew Rosenberg took a look at the role of bribery in our Afghan “strategy.” Not a very noble endeavor, but one that goes back to ancient times, the CIA has been doling out tens of millions of dollars to our crooked Afghan “allies.”

Former and current advisers of the Afghan leader have said the C.I.A. cash deliveries have totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past decade and have been used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support the Afghan leader depends upon.

The payments are not universally supported in the United States government. American diplomats and soldiers expressed dismay on Monday about the C.I.A.’s cash deliveries, which some said fueled corruption. They spoke privately because the C.I.A. effort is classified.

Others were not so restrained. “We’ve all suspected it,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and a critic of the war effort in Afghanistan. “But for President Karzai to admit it out loud brings us into a bizarro world.”

…The C.I.A. money continues to flow, Mr. Karzai said Monday. “Yes, the office of national security has been receiving support from the United States for the past 10 years,” he told reporters in response to a question. “Not a big amount. A small amount, which has been used for various purposes.” He said the money was paid monthly.

Afghan officials who described the payments before Monday’s comments from Mr. Karzai said the cash from the C.I.A. was basically used as a slush fund, similarly to the way the Iranian money was. Some went to pay supporters; some went to cover other expenses that officials would prefer to keep off the books, like secret diplomatic trips, officials have said.

…The C.I.A. payments open a window to an element of the war that has often gone unnoticed: the agency’s use of cash to clandestinely buy the loyalty of Afghans. The agency paid powerful warlords to fight against the Taliban during the 2001 invasion. It then continued paying Afghans to keep battling the Taliban and help track down the remnants of Al Qaeda. Mr. Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali, who was assassinated in 2011, was among those paid by the agency, for instance.

But the cash deliveries to Mr. Karzai’s office are of a different magnitude with a far wider impact, helping the palace finance the vast patronage networks that Mr. Karzai has used to build his power base. The payments appear to run directly counter to American efforts to clean up endemic corruption and encourage the Afghan government to be more responsive to the needs of its constituents.

“I thought we were trying to clean up waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Chaffetz, whose House subcommittee has investigated corruption in the country. “We have no credibility on this issue when we’re complicit ourselves. I’m sure it was more than a few hundred dollars.”

This is part of the Afghanistan way of life in a way that few Americans who haven’t spent time there will ever fathom. We shouldn’t be there– not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq… and certainly not in Syria. I thought Obama’s legacy would just be how he opened the door to killing Social Security. It looks like it may also be starting a war of choice in Syria as well. Will anyone be able to make a case that there’s still a discernible difference between the Democrats and the Republicans after that?

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