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Ebb as in ebb and flow, is what is now happening in Afghanistan. The tide may be out, but it won't stop any tsunami that awaits.

If you are a foreigner occupying some one else's homeland, it does not pay to fund your opposition. Yet that is exactly what we are doing. Fool's Game? Reality might be worse--the US government is not a fool, at least not now. Maybe it was during the great denial of the Bush Junior era, for they started the practice, or rather renewed it from the ash can of history. To a degree it worked in Iraq, for it narrowed the divide between the Sunni and Shias and reduced al Qa'ida considerably. Sunni/Shia cooperation is Iraq's future. But Afghanistan is different. Secular, tribal, and religious forces are all in it for themselves with corruption the cornerstone of a society still caught up in feudal times. Extortion and bribery allow supplies to go through. On the national scale, it becomes blackmail in effect when leaders of a well-meaning peoples, American and European, payoff to avoid their bungling being exposed.

The US military in Afghanistan does not deliver supplies to itself. That is the job for civilian contractors, mostly Afghani in origin. And that is the rub. Tribute payments ensure safe delivery and ends up in the pockets of local warlords and external insurgents like the Taliban and al Qa'ida. Aram Roston in the 30 Nov 2009 issue of The Nation quotes military officials that at least 10% of their military budget goes for tribute.

Most of these gougers have family or business ties to Karzai and his lieutenants. They have become rich beyond belief. Worse than that, paying off an enemy does not win in the long run. In iraq it was not the enemy that benefited, but that nuance may have been lost in the heat of debate in the Oval Office. From all accounts, deliberations on Afghanistan pit two opposing groups in debate. But debate only arrives at a winning hand by rare happenstance. Neither edict nor debate is the way to run a democracy.

Eisenhower famously said; "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." In other words, debate among plans is the fool's game; planning in dialogue is where wisdom is found.

Participating in corruption promotes ultimate failure, not the winning of minds. We can only hope that Obama has this kind of corruption in mind and acts decisively against it. If he takes the easiest, least political, option, he and we will suffer from his single term in office. His team must engage the best minds of our society to find the right and best way out of this quagmire in Dialogue.

The great crime is the way things are still going. Those who started this great disaster are not those whom Joe and Jane citizen will hold accountable. It is the present incumbents who will suffer at the polling place. It is also way beyond Bush and Obama, for it could not have happened without the explicit approval of the several societies that practice modern economic imperialism that in effect enriches the rich while robbing the poor. In this milieu, political persuasion means not a whit. Exchange currency is everything, bangles and baubles in other words.


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