What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Karzai, corruption, Western careers and chaotic hegemony

This is just what I hinted at in my previous post, calling the blaming of corruption in Afghanistan for everything a "default option," i.e. a deliberately mindless exercise in assigning blame for things one doesn't want to be too responsible for. Kim Howells, a high-ranking British Foreign Office official (namely, a former minister), had this to say about Hamed Karzai recently, to British MPs:
"Institutionally, Afghanistan is corrupt from top to bottom. There are few signs that the chaotic hegemony (highlighting by me - P.M.) of warlords, gangsters, presidential placemen, incompetent and under-resourced provincial governors and self-serving government ministers has been challenged in any effective way by President Karzai.
On the contrary, those individuals appear to be thriving, not least because Hamid Karzai has convinced himself that he cannot afford to sack or challenge the strongmen who, through corruption, brutality, power of arms or tribal status are capable of controlling their territories and fiefdoms."
It's all because of Karzai, you see? Well, don't get me wrong. I'm no apologist for him or for his wider family. Karzai does bear responsibility for things he is doing. But then everything has to be put into context.
If you create a political system with a weak king and a hundred quarrelling princes, with a dozen external actors willing to pull strings in the meantime -- which is what you have in Afghanistan -- this is the smartest you can get out of the discourse.

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