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Afghans Salute Clinton With Deadliest Day In A Year

Voice of Russia
July 9, 2012

Afghans salute Hillary Clinton with deadliest day in a year
Boris Volkhonsky

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[Clinton's] visit to Kabul came just as the US declared Afghanistan a “major non-NATO ally”. This status will make it easier for the Afghan government to acquire US defense supplies.

It seems that the West is of assertion that there are good donors and there are bad donors, much in the same way that there are bad terrorists (those fighting against the West) and there are good terrorists (those stirred up by the West itself against its foes).

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On Sunday, as reported by The Washington Post, the donors’ conference in Tokyo pledged $16 billion over the next four years for civilian projects – from roads to schools to strengthening the rule of law – in exchange for pledges from the Afghan government to combat corruption.

This amounts to $4 billion a year, which is comparable with Afghanistan’s yearly GDP. According to previous World Bank estimates, Afghanistan need $3.9 billion to keep its economy from collapsing once US and NATO forces withdraw by the end of 2014, taking with them jobs and other economic benefits.

It is not yet clear how exactly the amount will be shared by donor nations. The US is still and will likely remain the main benefactor, and over the past decade it has provided from $1 billion to $4 billion annually. Japan has pledged $3 billion through to 2016, and Germany has pledged to maintain its current funding level of about $550 million a year.

This is almost the same amount as pledged by Iran, which committed $500 million to road and railway construction, among other projects mainly in the western part of the country.

Before coming to Kabul, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid an unannounced visit to Kabul and met Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The visit to Kabul came just as the US declared Afghanistan a “major non-NATO ally”. This status will make it easier for the Afghan government to acquire US defense supplies.

The apparent tune to which the news of the Tokyo conference and Clinton’s visit to Kabul is reported is upbeat and aimed to demonstrate the willingness of the global community to further sustain Hamid Karzai’s government – even after US and NATO troops leave the country.

Still, observers have already pointed to some inconsistencies. Most of them have been there for quite a long time and well known, while several new developments have also occurred around the situation.

For one, Hamid Karzai’s government has pledged to fight against corruption an immeasurable number of times. Yet Afghanistan remains on the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption list, second only to the failed state of Somalia. So, the biggest question is where exactly the money will go.

Second, the Iranian pledge to provide $500 million annually has raised suspicions in the West that Iran is not really going build roads and railways for the benefit of Afghan people, but for its own sake. Accusations against Iran by the US and NATO that it is really aiming at destabilizing Afghanistan have been numerous in latest years, among other (similarly poorly founded) claims that Iran is involved in this or that subversive activity. This brings us to the old notorious issue of double standards. It seems that the West is of assertion that there are good donors and there are bad donors, much in the same way that there are bad terrorists (those fighting against the West) and there are good terrorists (those stirred up by the West itself against its foes).

Third, all of the talk about financial assistance and a “major non-NATO alliance” are relevant only until the present Afghan government controls (or is able to pretend that it controls) a substantial part of the country. But judging from the dominant tendencies of Afghan politics, it remains highly doubtful that it will be able to do so once the US and NATO troops withdraw.

The Taliban demonstrated its power on Sunday, saluting Clinton and the donors’ conference with one of the deadliest days in many months. On Sunday, at least 35 people were killed in Afghanistan in roadside bombs and clashes, including seven NATO servicemen. And it should be remembered that the active phase of troop withdrawal has not even started.

Finally, it still remains questionable what kind of alliance the US is going to offer to Afghanistan. Incidents like Koran burnings, the indiscriminate killings of civilians, torture of prisoners, urinating on dead men’s bodies, etc. have been too numerous to list them all. However, one new incident of the kind was made public a couple of days ago by Liveleak.com website.

An American helicopter pilot was recorded firing a missile on several Afghans in the middle of a road. The Liveleak commentary states that those people were “innocent farmers planting poppy seeds”. There is no further proof of the statement, as well as there is no indication that the people were engaged in any kind of subversive activity.

But one thing is clear. The pilot, while spotting the people on the road and firing at them evidently enjoyed what he was doing – all the while he was singing the 1971 classic “Bye Bye Ms. American Pie”.

Whether or not killing Afghans and enjoying doing so is consistent with the principles of a “major non-NATO alliance” – it’s best to leave that question unanswered.

Boris Volkhonsky, Senior Research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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