By Bruce Fein – – Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in Monday to succeed Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, and was followed by the swearing in of his political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, as chief executive officer.
The ceremony was applauded by the United States as the first democratic transfer of power in the nation’s history. The effusions of Secretary of State John Kerry verged the operatic:
“I have known both of them for many years, and they are both patriots committed to the success of their country. Never has that been more evident than in the spirit of cooperation and partnership that united them in establishing a government of national unity to fulfill Afghan aspirations for peace, prosperity and stability.”
In reality, the American-brokered inauguration bespeaks a second edition of Henry Kissinger’s face-saving “decent interval” between the removal of American troops from South Vietnam in 1973 and its conquest by the North in 1975.
Like South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu, President Ghani Ahmadzai is doomed.
His election was not democratic.
No vote totals were announced.
The number of fraudulent votes was staggering.
His chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, decisively outpolled Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai in the first presidential round.
Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai was coerced by the United States, as his first official act, to create the extra-constitutional post of chief executive officer for Mr. Abdullah to avert a civil war.
Pashtun tribes from the south provide the base of Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai’s support, while Tajiks in northern Afghanistan do the same for Mr. Abdullah.
To expect a coalition government between Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai and Mr. Abdullah to succeed is to believe that the Montagues and Capulets could have governed the Roman Empire as a duumvirate.
The United States hopes for a Kissingeresque decent interval “before the deluge.”
A cornerstone of that interval is the agreement signed by President Obama’s representative and Mr. Ghani Ahmadzai today providing for an estimated 10,000 non-combat American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, with contemplated reductions to about 5,000 in 2015 and 1,000 in 2016.
But those fingers in the dike will not hold.
According to Transparency International in 2013, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia were in a three-way tie for most corrupt nation on the planet. Soldiers will not fight to defend kleptomania among their rulers.
Afghanistan’s political culture remains ethnically divided between Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara. Tribal chiefs are dominant influences on voting among tribal members, and tribal or ethnic loyalties characteristically supersede national allegiances.
As in all primitive political communities, the executive in Afghanistan exercises virtually limitless power, while the legislative and judicial branches are largely ornamental.
There is no free press with the resources or talent to exercise a watchdog role over government.
This year, the United States reported a record level of illicit opium production in Afghanistan representing three-fourths of the world supply despite the expenditure of $7.5 billion to combat it.
The Taliban was not driven from power in Afghanistan in 2001 by an indigenous uprising, but by the U.S. military. Nothing in the 13-year interval between then and now suggests the Afghan population is any more unified, dedicated or capable of defeating the Taliban without the assistance of U.S. combat troops.
Depend upon it. Years after the Taliban regain power, the United States will come to establish diplomatic and trade relations with the regime in a reprise of Vietnam. The nation will come to ask what did our brave men and women die for in Afghanistan. But the government officials responsible for their deaths will be nowhere to be found.