Karzai’s cash cow

While tens of thousands of Americans continue to put themselves in harm’s way in an effort to defeat the Taliban and bring some measure of security to Afghanistan, the leader of that country has been taking millions of dollars in cash from America’s enemy, Iran.

It’s just one more reason the United States should be closely examining its mission and objectives in Afghanistan, and questioning the notion of nation-building in that country.

After The New York Times broke the story Sunday that top aides to Afghan President Hamid Karzai regularly received bundles of cash from the Iranian regime, Karzai admitted to receiving the money with a “So what?” shrug of his shoulders.

He said the cash contributions from Iran have been delivered regularly since shortly after Karzai became president in 2002.

Karzai also said the United States has long been aware of the money. Various news sources confirmed through current and former U.S. officials that top authorities in this country did know of the Iranian money.

As far as Karzai is concerned, the money is no big deal. It buys nothing but a good relationship with an important neighbor, he said. It buys much more than that, we suspect, or Iran wouldn’t be doling out the cash.

It’s true that the two countries share a long border, as well as religious, linguistic and cultural similarities. Furthermore, Iran has its own problems with the Taliban, and shortly after 9/11, aided the United States with intelligence and access to ensure they were removed from power in Afghanistan.

However, since then, the U.S. relationship with Iran has been anything but cordial. The country is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, despite the efforts of the United States and others in the developed world to prevent it. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and repeatedly proclaimed his animosity toward the United States.

There have also been reports that, despite its differences with the Taliban, Iran has provided the Islamic fanatics with assistance in their war against the United States and allied powers. It has done so because the presences of western military forces in Afghanistan thwarts its own ambition to rule the region.

Karzai argues that the money from Iran is no different than the billions of dollars the United States has poured into Afghanistan. But the U.S. money has been sent to help the country recover from decades of war and the ravages of Taliban rule, and to train a security force so the country can protect itself. And we have backed up the money with our military personnel, who have not only fought the Taliban, but helped Karzai maintain his government.

It’s difficult to see what we are accomplishing with our money and military aid, when Karzai uses that assistance to cozy up to those who wish to destroy us.


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