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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Speaking of Afghan corruption...

... I had to reappear here to reflect on these recent news, see here and here. CIA paying people considered corrupt, in Afghanistan (recapped).
My first thought was a sophisticated one. But that is not because I am so double-plus smart, but because I have been thinking about these issues since a long time now. I had time to come up with my useless sophistication, shared here for all to read.
Afghanistan is very much an integral part of the Western political imaginaire nowadays as it clearly manifests in the discourse about it, to such an extent that the interpretation of its representation there is inseparable from the study of the practices directed at re-shaping its real-life existence, on the ground.
Corruption is a good example of this. Corruption was mostly conditionally imaginaire for the Western mind, throughout all these times it has been talked about, and I have a hunch it will continue to be. I am saying this in the sense that it was constantly used as a (de-)mobilising political slogan even while most referring to it did not have the simplest of clues as to what it could exactly entail. Those blaming specifically Karzai for not doing enough against corruption mostly did not have a clue as to exactly against whom and how he should have done something. There was no need to address this, as nobody demanded a reality check for something imagined as automatically valid. They never had to bother asking annoying questions such as how could Karzai personally get the police to act in less corrupt ways down in Marjah, or how aid organisations paying off the Taliban would qualify as his government's aid-wasting corruption.
Now, the fun thing is, the most knowledgable could actually utter names, ones truly relevant to the topic in a sense. Ahmed Wali Karzai and Mohammed Zia Salehi being among them. But, hell, as it is NYT-visible now... it keeps turning out that people like them are simply important enough to be in contact with powerful outside actors... and if you are American you might appreciate that said actor in their cases happens to be the CIA... I will force myself to disregard the ill feelings many Americans get when they think of their country's intelligence community, in making this simplistic assumption. Put in this light, the bureaucratic politics involved in the imaginary unitary-actor of U.S power arm-twisting largely with its own self, seems tragic.
Yet a facepalm for a reaction is injustice because it leaves unaddressed the sole little issue addressing which could lend some morality to all the moralising about inconveniences of the current situation: namely, what would you have done yourself?
Trust me, this can be addressed in plenty of ways. The trouble is not what many policy apologists would base further arguments on, that they did their best, and under the circumstances only this and this was possible. Designing a formally one-man polity for Afghanistan (with a gigantic mess of informality beneath the surface of it) was not the only possibility. Talking of drawing down U.S. troop numbers in late-2005, planning for Spring 2006, as Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon did, was not the only possibility. And so on. One could continue this arbitrary picking of rotten cherries to mark a road to hell with them.

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