No gathering of the world’s political elite on the subject of Afghanistan would be complete without a requisite whip-round of the illustrious assembly for all the best half truths, tall tales and flat-out propaganda they can muster.
In this regard, today’s London conference on the bleeding wound of Southwest Asia began with invocations that can only be described as incredible.
There was Britain’s Gordon Brown, claiming that international forces are “turning the tide” against the Taliban.
Then it was Afghan President Hamid Karzai's turn. He claimed that most of the militants, suicide bombers and killers of schoolgirls are just “disenchanted brothers” who can be lured “back into mainstream life” (Brown’s words) by shelling out a fistful of dollars here, a bucket full of Pounds Sterling there.
Karzai said that five to ten more years of the haemorrhaging of Western tax dollars into the Afghan army and police will do the trick in terms of security.
(He didn’t mention that he has restored an alleged war criminal, Rashid Dostum, to the post of army chief-of-staff, and reappointed as Defence Minister a hard-drinking incompetent, Rahim Wardak, the father of one of the Kabul regime’s leading war profiteers, Hamid Wardak.)
Gordon Brown waded into the treacherous tides of timeframes with outrageous claims about how many soldiers and policemen the Kabul regime will boast by the end of this year and October of the next.
We have to wonder: has the man not learned anything as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister?
Setting deadlines in Afghanistan is like counting votes in future elections (or past ones, like Karzai’s). No honest person would dare try.
Then again, honesty appears to have no place in the conference’s Lancaster House venue. A key goal for the 60 national delegations will be the creation of a half-billion dollar slush fund to provide payoffs to "moderate" Taliban gunmen and bombers, who might be willing to kiss Karzai on both cheeks and lay down their arms.
Simply stated, this stands to be the most audacious program of industrial-strength baksheesh the world has seen since the creation of the Karzai regime itself.
The “internationals” still don’t get the drift of things in Afghanistan and Pakistan (whose military is the Afghan Taliban’s patron, and the central driver of the conflict).
The vast majority of anti-Karzai militants can be expected to treat bribes from foreigners exactly as the Karzai brothers and their avaricious cohorts have done for the past eight years. They will take whatever money is on offer, bank it in Dubai and then do exactly as they please in Afghanistan - while Pakistan’s generals continue to set the agenda.
In the fog of collective dementia that has settled over Lancaster House, not a single one of the designer suits preparing for the group’s photo opp has dared ask this crucial question.
Why, when fully 70% of Afghans live in abject poverty, and nearly one-third of the population can’t get enough food, are world powers handing over more scarce tax dollars to those who deserve it least, namely the lords of war and the Khans of chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
And what about that other unfortunate fact on the ground? Karzai has tried unsuccessfully for more than four full years to lure Taliban fighters to his discredited regime (see Skyreporter’s video report Meet The Taliban, posted March 26, 2007 on page 39 of Recent Stories).
With killers like Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar running and gunning as never before with the Pakistan military’s backing, why should anyone be attracted to the crumbling House of Karzai now?
Instead, Karzai's enemies will show themselves ready and willing to loot the footlockers of faithless foreigners, before getting back to the business of winning the war – an objective the U.S.-led coalition has evidently abandoned.
Listen closely through the din of disinformation in London, and you can almost hear the voices of the dead.
We gave our lives for this?