To Kabul With Love: An Open Letter to President Hamid Karzai

I  hope that this letter finds you in good health aside from the constant security threat to your person, which grows exponentially whenever you leave Kabul. Allow me to ask you, friend: what is irony? A short Asian Nazi? A grandmother who bakes cookies with marijuana in them? Perhaps it is starting a war (ostensibly) to oust and execute a dictator and then discovering one’s alleged ally is moving down the authoritarian path himself, and going a bit bonkers in the process. Yes, Mr. Karzai, I think you are representative of an ironic and inconvenient historical lesson, for the United States of America and any other country which may hold on to imperial pretensions.

You see, Mr. Karzai, you were never a particularly amazing leader. I’m sure any encouragement you may have received to this effect came only because your parents were being nice to you. Your move to assign yourself broad executive powers, when the current government was being formed in the wake of the Taliban’s defeat, is mind-boggling the more I think about it. Why shouldn’t Afghanistan be a parliamentary democracy? Wouldn’t a broader consensus be better at so critical a time in your country’s history?

You were buddies with the Cowboy Administration, who never pushed you too hard when it came to corruption or the sneaky activities of your brother. You abused the extra space, pretending like your brother is a nice guy and going so far as to rig elections this past autumn.

Nobody really expects you to admit that, but what are the rest of us supposed to think when the Election Commission is filled with your men? You embarrassed your Western patrons one too many times with that little shenanigan. They voiced their displeasure with you and are thinking of flaking on a date they invited you to at the White House. I’m sure you really want to go, as people from our part of the world can’t resist free food.

Your initial response to their giving you a diplomatic cold shoulder, however, was absurd. You responded by blaming the West for meddling in Afghani affairs by engaging in “vast fraud” in the election and giving control of the Election Commission to the UN. Let’s dissect this, buddy. You blamed the West for perpetuating fraud in an election you won. Oh, and remember when John Kerry had to fly to Afghanistan and browbeat you (verbally, as far as we know, but if he hurt you, don’t be afraid to alert a grown-up) into accepting that a second round needed to be held? You’ve got your work cut out for you trying to explain how making the openly pro-You Election Commission impartial constitutes “meddling.” Don’t Afghani voters, who risk their physical security to vote, deserve an impartial body to oversee the elections? You’re making this too easy.

Perhaps you are quite unprepared for democracy. In any event, you had to have the head of the Election Commission step down, as the West wanted. Like a rebellious teenager, you realized you eventually had to accept the will of your parents, since they pay for your stuff. As for the charges by former UN diplomat Peter Galbraith that you party with opium, only people who really don’t like you would probably believe that. But you have to admit, people are allowed to wonder why we have to have this talk every couple of months.

Samier Saeed is a third-year economics major and can be reached at ssaeed@uci.edu.