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That Wild and Krazi Karzai is at it Again
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[QUOTE="QC, post: 78265, member: 150"] A bit deeper analysis [url]http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/karzais-tantrum-or-a-sinister-strategy/comments-e6frg6zo-1225850029726[/url] FILM director Billy Wilder was once asked what it was like to direct actress Marilyn Monroe in his classic 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. He paused for a moment, and then replied: "We were in mid-flight and there was a nut on the plane." In several Western capitals, key leaders must have a similar feeling about having to deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. His bizarre April 1 attack on the UN and Western powers for allegedly committing "fraud" at the Afghan presidential election of August 20 last year - an absolute travesty of the truth - left the impression of a leader who had spent far too long isolated in a bunker, almost to the point of inhabiting a parallel universe. On the weekend he let fly again, saying the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance if Western meddling didn't stop - at one point apparently threatening to join them. It is relatively rare to have to deal with such figures in international diplomacy, let alone as a principal partner. Karzai was not a participant at the Bonn meeting of late 2001 to lay out a path for Afghanistan's political future after the September 11 attacks and the overthrow of the Taliban regime, and he was not initially favoured to lead the interim administration to which the meeting led. However, he was widely known to the participants, and proved to be an acceptable compromise candidate. He has led Afghanistan ever since, having secured popular election as president with 55.4 per cent of the vote in 2004. After such a tide of goodwill, what went wrong? The Karzai tragedy is not unique, but is amplified by circumstances in Afghanistan: he possesses some of the skills required to be an effective political leader, but not all. In the early phases of Afghanistan's transition, his inclusive rhetoric, strong linguistic skills and personal decency served him well as a symbolic focus of loyalty, and in 2004, 64 per cent of Afghans surveyed by the Asia Foundation said the country was moving in the right direction. As time went by, these symbolic strengths became less relevant to Afghanistan's problems, which increasingly needed to be addressed through rigorous policy development and implementation, and moves to prevent nepotism and corruption. These were not Karzai's strengths, given that he had grown up politically during the 1980s in the "state-free" environment of the Pakistani city of Peshawar, where Afghan mujaheddin politics was based on networking and connections. In addition, the "presidential" system embodied in Afghanistan's 2004 constitution overloaded Karzai with responsibilities, without the capacity to shift blame. He became more and more dependent on unsavoury cronies, some with backgrounds in extremist mujaheddin parties. With the shift of the Bush administration's attention to Iraq, he increasingly faced the problem of revived insurgency from the Taliban, operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan. By last year, the Asia Foundation found that only 42 per cent of Afghans felt the country was heading in the right direction, and international actors expressed growing doubts in him. All these problems came to a head last August. Massive fraud, largely orchestrated by Karzai supporters looking to save their skins, appeared to give him a first-round victory, but the "Electoral Complaints Commission", comprising three international and two Afghan members, took its work seriously. Of the fewer than 5.7 million votes allegedly cast in the August 20 voting, more than 1.3 million were invalidated on the grounds of fraud, with more than 75 per cent of those having favoured Karzai. Only through intransigence over the "Independent" Electoral Commission, credibly implicated in fraud, did he avoid a humiliating run-off election against former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. Optimists hoped Karzai would learn some painful lessons from this experience, but the signs are not promising. Hopefully, his attacks on the UN and Western powers are merely a tantrum. A more frightening possibility is that he genuinely believes what he is saying about last year's election. Yet another, sinister, possibility is that it is part of a political strategy. In February, Karzai moved by decree to claim for himself the right to appoint all members of the Electoral Complaints Commission, in the name of "Afghan sovereignty". The lower house of the parliament on March 31 rejected his decree, doubtless triggering his outburst the following day. But given his weak position both domestically and internationally, it is possible that his objectives are to reduce his dependence on the US by cutting a deal with the Pakistan-backed Taliban and Hekmatyar's Hezb, and moving closer to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On the other hand, he may be seeking to reduce his local vulnerability by trying to geld the parliament and establish an autocratic system of rule. Such moves may shore up Karzai's position in the short term but there is a concrete risk that wider international support for his position would become unsustainable. Western actors erred by reacting to the August 2009 fraud in a supine fashion, and Western leverage in Kabul is at an all-time low. Nevertheless, Karzai and his ministers should be left in no doubt, should he proceed down this path, of the risks not only to him but also to ordinary Afghans. They deserve better. William Maley is director of the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University, and author of Rescuing Afghanistan (2006) and The Afghanistan Wars (2009) [/QUOTE]
How many letters are in "ShadowSpear?"
That Wild and Krazi Karzai is at it Again