Sunday, April 11, 2004

HERSH'S NON-REVELATIONS: Seymour Hersh is an excellent investigative journalist and a brilliant writer. But I have to admit, his piece on Afghanistan in this week's New Yorker is a bore. It's relatively short and it reveals little. Clark's criticism of how Bush handled Afghanistan? Read it in his book. Karzai can't handle security outside of Kabul? Yawn. Opium cultivation? The focus on Iraq and not Afghanistan? The former Taliban foreign minister wants to talk with Karzai? We already know all of this; it's been covered already! Fortunately, Hersh does reveal some, shall we say, internal problems.

Meanwhile, the United States continued to pay off and work closely with local warlords, many of whom were involved in heroin and opium trafficking. Their loyalty was not for sale but for rent. ... Fahim, now the defense minister, is deeply involved in a number of illicit enterprises. ... One of Karzaiā€™s many antagonists is his own defense minister, Mohammed Fahim. Last year, the Bush Administration was privately given a memorandum by an Afghan official and American ally, warning that Fahim was working to undermine Karzai and would use his control over money from illegal businesses and customs revenue to do so. Fahim was also said to have recruited at least eighty thousand men into new militias.
"Illicit enterprises"? So he's a drug dealer in the flourishing Afghan opium trade. What other so-called "illicit businesses" are there in Afghanistan? And I'm not sure whether to believe Hersh's "private memorandum." He tells us that Fahim seeking to "undermine Karzai"? What does that mean? Does he want to overthrow Karzai in a coup? Is he saboting his poll numbers? We're not told!

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