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November 18, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Paying Off the Warlords
Anatomy of an Afghan Culture of Corruption

By Pratap Chatterjee

Kabul, Afghanistan -- Every morning, dozens of trucks laden with diesel from Turkmenistan lumber out of the northern Afghan border town of Hairaton on a two-day trek across the Hindu Kush down to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul. Among the dozens of businesses dispatching these trucks are two extremely well connected companies -- Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid -- that helped to swell the election coffers of President Hamid Karzai as well as the family business of his running mate, the country's new vice president, warlord Mohammed Qasim Fahim.

Some of the trucks are on their way to two power stations in the northern part of the capital: a recently refurbished, if inefficient, plant that has served Kabul for a little more than a quarter of a century, and a brand new facility scheduled for completion next year and built with money from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Afghan political analysts observe that Ghazanfar and Zahid Walid are striking examples of the multimillion-dollar business conglomerates, financed by American as well as Afghan tax dollars and connected to powerful political figures, that have, since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, emerged as part of a pervasive culture of corruption here.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 18, 2009 04:37 AM

"aghani" culture of corruption?

the US better watch out, or that "afghani culture of corruption" might, uh, start influencing us.

Posted by: anon at November 18, 2009 06:50 AM

Why didn't Ike and Winston come up with this brilliant idea?

Posted by: par4 at November 18, 2009 11:35 AM

anon is funny

"Why didn't Ike and Winston come up with this brilliant idea?"

Winston was pretty familiar with the idea, and Ike knew plenty about it from the Phillipines too. It's just colonialism with a few modern twists and a big dose of modern American excess. Ike and Winston would have been happy to keep the old system going with some adaptations, but the people of the world weren't so happy about it. They had the idea that they had fought a world war to rid themselves of it. And FDR, with the help of a few smart people in his administration like Sumner Welles and Alger Hiss and his ever-trusted Harry Hopkins, hoped to design an international system that gave the people of the world what they wanted--no, demanded.

But alas, poor old Sumner Welles ran into a sex scandal, and FDR got a terrible headache and died just in the nick of time, and every New Dealer left in the Administration was run out of town by the old guard of the Democratic party, the military, and Big Money.

But even that wasn't enough. Alger Hiss ran into Nixon and a sad excuse for a liar named Whittaker Chambers, and we soon got the National Security State instead of a REAL United Nations.

So why is it that the backs that get stabbed never really belong to right-wingers? The crazy jingoes always are the stabbers, not the stabbees. In the same way, the crazy yahoo right-wingers tend to believe the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, in the old days about Jews and nowadays about arabs and terrorists and Obamas, and then after they get sick of constantly being stabbed in the back they get together over beers and form their own conspiracies to do something about it. After all, what's fair is fair.

Posted by: N E at November 18, 2009 10:58 PM