An overnight development shows why the Kabul regime is not worth another drop of American blood, and why the elections later this week will be far from the democratic triumph presented by U.S. officials. Drug kingpin and war criminal General Abdul Rashid Dostum is back in Afghanistan, working to help re-elect President Hamid Karzai.
KABUL -- A notorious Afghan warlord accused of allowing the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners and then destroying the evidence returned to Afghanistan Sunday night as part of what appears to be a political deal brokered with President Hamid Karzai.
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum arrived from Turkey just four days before the Afghan presidential elections, in which his support could be key to Karzai's chances of securing more than 50 percent of the vote -- the threshold for avoiding a second round of elections.
Karzai has come under criticism for consolidating his position by striking deals with warlords like Dostum and those suspected of connections to the country's opium trade.
Dostum, you may recall, is responsible for a 2001 massacre in which he and his men stuffed thousands of prisoners into metal containers, suffocating most and then shooting at close range those who survived. Physicians for Human Rights uncovered the massacre and Dostum's attempt to cover it up, a cover-up aided by the U.S. government (Dostum was a CIA asset at the time). He is the worst sort of war criminal, and an opium kingpin at that. And yet, he's held senior positions in the government on whose behalf U.S. troops are killing and dying, and he's only one example of a wide swath of the Afghan government populated by warlords and drug traffickers.
The general's return raises the question of why we haven't (and possibly won't ever) touch him for the war crime he committed in 2001. Two reasons present themselves:
- Karzai is relying on him to "deliver" (buy? coerce?) a million votes to avoid a runoff vote.
- Dostum was a CIA asset at the time of the 2001 massacre.
Dostum's return to a warm embrace by the U.S.-backed government in Kabul shows us that:
- The U.S. is not fighting to support a pro-human-rights regime in Afghanistan. Dostum is a war criminal and warlord, and he exemplifies the rot at the heart of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA).
- The U.S. is backing a narco-state in Afghanistan. Dostum is only one of many drug kingpins and their bought-and-paid-for puppets in the GoIRA. By backing this government comprised in large part of drug traffickers (including Karzai's brother), we're confirming what many have warned about for some time now: the U.S. is picking and choosing winners in the global opium trade by eliminating Taliban-connected opium traders while helping to shore up the political power of opium traders in the Afghan government.
The Afghan government is not worth one more drop of American blood. The Bush-era idea that terrorism is a problem to be dealt with through invasion and occupation of foreign lands has led us down a path that ends with our morally culpability for the behavior of a narco-state flush with cash from the opium trade and U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The Beltway debate about whether to add more troops is akin to the WW-II Japanese generals asking "Should we attack Pearl Harbor on November 13 or December 1?" The real question was whether they should have attacked at all. Similarly, the question is not whether we need more troops in Afghanistan. The question is whether we should have invaded and occupied Afghanistan in response to 9/11 and whether that occupation and military action should continue. The answer is no, and we should get our troops out of there, now.