Monday, July 20, 2009

Carville Advises Karzai Opponent

The people of Afghanistan will vote on August 20 on a poll that may or may not unseat Hamid Karzai. Karzai is not very popular within his country, this administration known to be quite corrupt, but with such a large field running against him, he very well may remain in his position.

There are reportedly 41 candidates for the job. According to a recent article in Times Online, most diplomats expect Karzai to win. Karzai and President Obama have one governing strategy in common - they bring into their administration a number of potential rivals.

A tidbit in a different news blurb caught my attention about the upcoming election. James Carville, the uber nasty Democratic strategist - who hit the big time with Bill and Hillary Clinton - is assisting a candidate in the race and it's not Karzai. "This is probably the most important election held int he world in a long time," he said. Leave it to a Democrat to go to the drama.

Carville is supporting Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister who worked on the Afghan economy in recovery after the fall of the Taliban. He is the current chair of the Institute of Sate Effectiveness, which promotes the ability of states to serve their citizens.

He returned to Afghanistan in December, 2001 after 24 years out of the country. He became chief adviser to Karzai. He worked at the World Bank before returning to his country. He is an academic, a former Fulbright Scholar and was educated in America.

Karzai has reached out to all factions of Afghanistan. He told Times Online that "Military operations are no longer enough. We have to rethink the way we do things --without that there won't be an improvement." He noted the death of British and coalition soldiers this month - the deadliest month for troops to date.

Karzai calls on talks to begin with the Taliban. "I don't think the increase in troops will address the problem. We need to concentrate on finding other avenues of defeating terrorism and seeking peace." "We must engage in negotiations, bring back those Taliban who are willing to return, who have been driven out by fear and coercion and the mistakes we've all made. They are part of this country and must be called back."

Karzai was encouraged by a recent speech made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She extended an olive branch to Taliban militants who renounce violence. It may be the only way forward for Afghanistan. The people and country, so undeveloped and uneducated, essentially mostly in the Bronze Age, is a tribal nation. Until the tribal nature of the country is fully understood there will be no solution. Military operations have been only temporary stop gaps for decades there. The poppy crop is up again and the increased number of troops has not solved that problem.

Karzai is pleased to have reassurance from American military leaders that more caution will be taken concerning civilian casualities. "Afghan people want the international community to stay here but that contract has to be renewed and certain issues corrected."

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