Corruption in Afghanistan, or the hypocrisy of international politics

Inclusive Politics08 Nov 2009Thea Hilhorst

I have always known that politics are hypocritical, but sometimes it gets to me nonetheless. I am in New York at the moment, where I spend eight weeks of my sabbatical as guest-lecturer at Columbia University. This week, after it became clear that president Karzai of Afghanistan was going to be president for an other term, President Obama phoned him and told reporters afterwards that he told him “to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community’s interest in his country to initiate reforms internally”. The US administration wants Afghanistan to form an anti-corruption commission and arrest the more blatantly corrupt people in the government.

The first person who comes to mind would no doubt be the brother of President Karzai. Ahmed Wali Karzai is notorious for his alleged ties to drugstrade and his kinship relation to the president has been a prominent and symbolic marker of the Afghan’s government lack of determination to combat corruption.

The phone call of Obama to Karzai took place on 3 November. On 28 October, just 6 days earlier, the New York Times featured on its frontpage that the CIA has Ahmed Wali Karzai on its payroll, apparently to finance warlord-related militia. Can politics get any more surreal?