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October 25, 2010

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I'm gratified to see the Karzai government, despite its notable flaws, in this instance displays superior transparency regarding foreign money flows than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Prediction: The same people saying that Citizens United wasn't that big a deal and that there's nothing wrong about the US Chamber of Commerce accepting foreign money will use this as evidence that Iran is a dangerous rogue state, meddling in its neighbours affairs.

"He can't do that to our pledges."

"Only we can do that to our pledges."

That would have been a better title to this post.

Afghanistan and Iran share a common border

Some would call it uncommon, even.

Seems like similar thinking to the objections against "internal aggression" during the Cold War- often meaning "factions within a foreign state that do not align with US interests". So we're not "meddling" in Afghani affairs- we're *helping*, because the true interests of the Afghani people are aligned with the interests of the US- even if they are slow to realize it.

It's not so much funny that advocates of the US think that we're doing good (I suspect that most people think this)- it's that this becomes such an article of faith that they cannot imagine anyone (even a foreigner getting bombed for the greater good) seeing it in any other way.

Among the many flaws of the Bush approach to foreign policy was the rejection of Iranian help in Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban. Iran supported the Northern Alliance as we did but then we stayed in Afghanistan and then invaded Iraq. You might want to point out that Iran has a common border with Iraq as well.
So, the neocons reject Iran inn Afghanistan and throw out Saddam so we have troops on two borders. That's not just common but downright barbaric.

"Among the many flaws of the Bush approach to foreign policy was the rejection of Iranian help in Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban."

I wonder when we will (apologies to Eric, nice post) focus on the Obama administrations mistakes. They, at least, might be impacted somehow.

"I wonder when we will (apologies to Eric, nice post) focus on the Obama administrations mistakes."

Be assured I have a long list I hope to get to. Quite long.

However, the next couple of weeks I continue to pack and move, and then will be unpacking and setting up new life in new state, so no promises of anything soon.

Meanwhile, I wouldn't want to count how many posts Eric has made criticizing Obama's Afghanistan policy, among other Obama policies.

Of course, many of us criticize Obama from what could loosely be simplified as being from varieties of left or liberal points of view; I don't know if you find that sufficiently satisfactory criticism of Obama.

I wonder when we will (apologies to Eric, nice post) focus on the Obama administrations mistakes. They, at least, might be impacted somehow.

I thought Eric was doing quite a good job of that vis a vis the Afghanistan 'surge'. At least, it'd hard to argue that Eric hasn't been critical of the Administration's foreign policy, regardless of whether you think those criticisms are valid.

"Meanwhile, I wouldn't want to count how many posts Eric has made criticizing Obama's Afghanistan policy, among other Obama policies."

I agree, thus my apologies. Sorry I wasn't clear.

And I find this quite satisfactory:

Of course, many of us criticize Obama from what could loosely be simplified as being from varieties of left or liberal points of view; I don't know if you find that sufficiently satisfactory criticism of Obama.


Actually, the New York Times completely changed its spin from the first report to the second.

In the first article, the story was that special witnesses gave the NYT info that Karzai's aide was undermining the government because of his ties to Iran, thus he was receiving the bags of cash. There was no suggestion whatsoever that this was approved by Karzai.

In the second article, Karzai left no confusion as to the fact that the cash-bags were fully known to him, approved by him, and well-known to the US government since Bush.

I saw no acknowledgement whatsoever that the prior spin was absolute nonsense.

"I saw no acknowledgement whatsoever that the prior spin was absolute nonsense."

I don't know what you'd like anyone to do with this information about your opinion unless you'd like to give URLs to the two versions, and specify the changed words and phrases you'd like us to discuss.

We can't discuss your abstract notions of "spin" unanchored in other than the word "spin," and your declared opinion.

We *can* discuss what the Times did and didn't print, and possibly why, if you'd like to provide the relevant info.

What is the point in bothering to vote for candidates in the U.S. anyway? Issues on the ballot I can understand taking the time to vote for or against for example if you live in California there's a reason to vote for Proposition 19 if for nothing else to further expose the Obama administration as reactionary by its response to its passage. But for actual candidates? Total waste of time.

After the Dems swept into power in Congress in the 2006 midterms on a platform of "Vote for us if you want to end the war in Iraq" and then refused to actually do anything to, you know, end the war in Iraq like cutting off funding for it by refusing to vote on supplementals that should have told anybody with common sense that they've been bamboozled. After Obama gets elected as a supposed "change agent" and despite a Dem majority Senate and House gives the American people a health care "reform" bill written by the big insurance companies and Big Pharma; after giving us a Wall Street "reform" bill written by Wall Street that does nothing to prevent their casino-like behavior; after getting a Nobel Peace Prize then immediately escalating the gas pipeline war in Afghanistan; after promising us a government of accountability then adamantly refusing to have his attorney general go after the war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, as apparantly accountability for torture, for the mainstreaming of police state measures with the Patriot Act and the starting of a war of aggression isn't worthy of examining as he's "moving forward, not looking backward"; as Obama has enshrined these police state measures and expanded upon them; and as Obama's surrounded himself with an administration made up of ruling class pukes from the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group and A.I.P.A.C. what can a sensible, informed person conclude but that it is an exercise in futility to go out and vote? Why bother when all the wealthy ruling elite will allow us to vote for are obvious conservatives and thinly-disguised conservatives? That's as undemocratic as Saddam Hussein's elections but with somewhat more sophistication.

Unless private money is taken completely out of political campaigns with each candidate instead getting an equal (but small) amount of public funding with campaigns lasting a couple months instead of a couple years the system will continue to be as artificial as professional wrestling. Candidates will continue to be nothing more than puppets of their wealthy corporate backers, answering to them instead of the average people of this country. Face it America: You don't have a democracy. What you have is a dog & pony show every few years, designed to make you think you have a say in what kind of government governs you. It is painfully obvious that you don't.

I don't know what you'd like anyone to do with this information about your opinion unless you'd like to give URLs to the two versions, and specify the changed words and phrases you'd like us to discuss.

Then don't do anything with it. I don't remember requesting anything from you, agreement or otherwise. You don't think I proved a point? Fine. Why would I care what you did or didn't think was proven? Don't agree then. Go eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But, for the heck of it, here it is.

The first article is the one quoted above at the top of the page. This page. You probably could have gone and read it yourself. Maybe. But I guess without a URL in my comment, it's too difficult.

The money is part of a secret, stream of Iranian cash intended to buy the loyalty of Mr Daudzai and promote Iran's interests in the presidential palace, according to Afghan and Western officials. Iran uses its influence to help drive a wedge between the Afghans and their US and NATO benefactors, they say.

The payments, which officials say total millions of dollars, form an off-the-books fund that Mr Daudzai and Mr Karzai have used to pay Afghan MPs, tribal elders and even Taliban commanders to secure their allegiance.

''It's a basically a presidential slush fund,'' a Western official in Kabul said of the Iranian-supplied money. ''Daudzai's mission is to advance Iranian interests.''

The sources said they were motivated to speak by concern that Mr Daudzai was helping to poison relations between Mr Karzai and the US. Mr Daudzai and Mr Karzai both declined to respond to written questions about their relationship with Iran. An aide to Mr Daudzai dismissed the allegations as ''rubbish.''

The focus is on Daudzai. His "loyalty" is being bought by Iran. His cash-bag acceptance threatens to "poison relations" between Mr. Karzai and the US.

The main actor is Daudzai. That is what the article emphasizes. Those are the unnamed sources' concerns.

On Monday the NYT reported this:

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he regularly receives bags of cash from the Iranian government in payments amounting to millions of dollars, as evidence mounted of a worsening rift between his government and its American and NATO supporters...

...“They do give us bags of money — yes, yes, it is done,” Mr. Karzai said, responding to questions about a report in The New York Times on Sunday that Iran sends regular cash payments to his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai. “We are grateful to the Iranians for this.”...

...The Iranian payments are another significant source of tension. Mr. Karzai discounted their importance, claiming that the cash transfers were well known, and that he had even disclosed them to former President George W. Bush during a meeting at Camp David. He says that he uses the money to pay expenses incurred in the course of doing his job, including for “special expenses and helping people.”

Mr. Karzai says others give him cash payments as well. “The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices,” he said.

He says Mr. Daudzai is the courier for the Iranian cash, which amounts to about $1 million “once or twice a year.” The Times previously quoted Afghan and Western officials as saying that Mr. Daudzai has received regular payments from Iran that totaled about $6 million.

That is the spin that was changed.

With Karzai's clear statements, it can no longer be suggested based on unnamed Afghan and Western sources that the aide Daudzai is "poisoning" Karzai's relation to the US because Iran is "buying his loyalty".

So the NYT was certainly correct about Iranian cash sent to the Karzai government, and that it was given to Daudzai, but there is no longer the suggestion that Daudzai's loyalties were being purchased in order to poison the relationship between Karzai and the US.

Of course, if one is moralizing about conflict of interest or corruption, it seems hypocritical. But it isn't about morality. Iran and the US are opponents, competing for power, and the US naturally and correctly objects to Iran projecting its power. I also object. Especially since most of Iran's money comes from the West.

Of course, if one is moralizing about conflict of interest or corruption, it seems hypocritical. But it isn't about morality.

Yes, which is why it's ridiculous for the State Department to be moralizing about "interference in the internal affairs of the Afghan government."

Iran and the US are opponents, competing for power

Earlier US policy in Iraq was driven, to a not inconsequential extent, by the ridiculous promises of a paid agent of Iran. In return, we solved Iran's central strategic challenge for a generation.

The problem of Afghanistan was obviously much less important to Iran, but here again, we managed to put Iran's clients into power.

The idea that our removal of hostile neighboring regimes would be seen as a threat -- because liberty and democracy are so contagious (I mean really, just think about how much impact internal political developments in Canada and Mexico have on internal US politics) -- belongs on the same heap as Teahadi rhetoric about taking back the government (from the people writing the medicare and SS checks the teahadis collect).

Over on Unqualified Offerings (highclearing.com),
one of the bloggers put it very simply (quote from memory; I can't find the post):

"We have words for somebody who accepts money from foreign intelligence services, and they aren't pretty. Once somebody's accepting money from one foreign spy agency, it's foolish to think that he'll turn down others. No matter what she tells you, you are not her only John."

Thanks for clarifying the point you were going for, El Cid.

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