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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Hamed, we are disappointed!"

Blake Hounshell decided to compose something akin to a letter on behalf of President Obama, to Hamed Karzai. I don't intend to take it on me to respond to this on behalf of President Karzai in a serious manner, but I will turn this into a fake dialogue that shall never occur, using excerpts of Blake Hounshell's monologue. The noble purpose of this is to show the kind of answers that should seem obvious options for any observer who has monitored the things going on in the region in the past decades. I am really puzzled as to how someone like Blake Hounshell could ignore these, apparently.
* * * * *
Blake Hounshell: "My dear Hamed, how are you? Sorry to drop in on you so suddenly, but as you know the security situation in your capital city is still pretty dicey."
Karzai: "I know. Haqqani and those other zealots are really nuts. Charlie "Abu al-Jihad al-Afghani" Wilson used to hang out with them, but Lala Jalaluddin really isn't that cool. And his men and his Arab guests tend to shoot and blow up stuff around here, including hotels and CIA agents. Really too bad you had to come here so suddenly. I know all about that, I live here."
BH: "Thanks for letting us bring some of your troops along for the ride. Here's hoping they'll actually be useful when we go into Kandahar later this year."
Karzai: "You are welcome to take Afghanistan's sons whom you have trained. As to Kandahar, forgive me for being a little perplexed. You do not actually mean to use troops in Marjah-style operations in an area like that, do you?"
BH: "Hamid: You're a major disappointment"
Karzai: "Sorry to hear that. Good luck living up to expectations to you."
BH: "All you seem to do is sit here in your presidential palace most days, fiddling while your country burns."
Karzai: "Good to hear you apparently do not have problems with the things I actually do. Only with the fiddling part."
BH: "The Pakistanis were in town last week, and they all but told us that your government is a joke."
Karzai: "Right... I see now! You need some very-very basic information about Pakistan. Hm. Let us see a map first. First of all I shall show you where that country is. Then there is this thing called "condom" to which people in Washington used to liken that country. The reason was..."
BH: "Your police forces are too busy abusing and shaking down ordinary Afghans to do their jobs."
Karzai: "Good to know cops do not shake down people in normal countries like yours. Unfortunately, this does tend to happen at times in places like Pakistan, for example. At least you trained many of our policemen. Perhaps you could pay them some more?"
BH: "Pakistanis urged us to stop trying to build up a central government in Kabul and try to work through regional power brokers instead."
Karzai: "Well, yes, ekhm, that is why I was starting to explain about Pakistan... But anyway, surely you don't mean we should rely on "regional power brokers." You cannot possibly mean "the warlords," can you? A couple of years before this I was constantly pressured by people like you to do more against them... Anyway, as to Pakistan..."
BH: "I tried to get them to commit to going after the Haqqani network, which has been giving us hell in southeastern Afghanistan and almost killed you several times. But each time I brought it up, they found some way to change the subject. I think they're hedging their bets."
Karzai: "Ah, fine. So you know about Haqqani and Pakistan then."
BH: "I tried to buy us both some more time by coming up with this confusing July 2011 "timeframe" to begin drawing down troops, but you and I both know that's a hope, not a plan."
Karzai: "I see. Of course I take all that you say very seriously, just like the Taliband and the Pakistanis will. And I hope we see each other soon. See you in mid-2012, insha'Allah. 1391, that is, for us."
BH: "We're just going to declare victory in Afghanistan and go home."
Karzai: "And then what?"
BH: "You remember what happened to Najibullah, don't you?"
Karzai: "But surely you do remember what happened on 9/11, don't you?"
BH: "The American people's memories of 9/11 are fading."
Karzai: "Memory loss? You are implying you want to see mullah Omar again here by 1391, to cure a memory loss? There is a chance mullah Omar will not want to see you."

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