Ever sensitive to the sorrows of empire, the Washington Post informs us that a “Karzai rift prompts U.S. to reevaluate anti-corruption strategy in Afghanistan“:
Senior Obama administration officials have concluded they need to step back from promoting American-style law enforcement as the main means of fighting corruption in Afghanistan because of the rift it has caused with President Hamid Karzai.
President Obama’s top national security advisers, who will meet with him this week to discuss the problem, do not yet agree on the contours of a new approach, according to U.S. civilian and military officials involved in Afghanistan policy. But the officials said there is a growing consensus that key corruption cases against people in Karzai’s government should be resolved with face-saving compromises behind closed doors instead of public prosecutions.
Relations between Karzai and the United States have nosedived since the arrest of one of his palace aides on bribery charges six weeks ago. The arrest – made by an Afghan anti-graft task force that has received extensive financing, training, equipment and intelligence support from the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies – proved embarrassing for the Afghan leader. Karzai responded by ordering the aide released and instructing his Justice Ministry to impose new rules limiting international involvement in corruption investigations.
[T]he change almost certainly will draw fire from some in the military and diplomatic corps who believe a strong public push against high-level graft is key to reducing the culture of impunity that pervades the country, as well as from some members of Congress who deem such efforts essential to securing support for $3.9 billion in additional reconstruction funds sought by the Obama administration…
Some officials, principally at the staff level, contend that government venality and incompetence is the principal reason Afghans are joining, supporting or tolerating the Taliban. Other administration and military officials, particularly those at senior levels, maintain that graft is just one of many factors – along with sanctuaries in Pakistan, historical tribal grievances and anger at the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil – that fuel the conflict.
Compounding the challenge is that many Afghan officials who are regarded as corrupt also provide valuable assistance to U.S. forces, including sensitive intelligence. Some, including the palace aide, are on the CIA’s payroll – a fact not initially known to investigators working on the case.
“There’s been the schizophrenia that we haven’t been able to resolve,” the administration official said. “We want to fight corruption, but we also want to use these guys.”