September 21, 2010
Amid bombings and killings, low turn-out and allegations of large-scale ballot stuffing, the fourth post-Taliban elections took place on Saturday in Afghanistan. The official results are not yet known, but all the main foreign actors present in Afghanistan were – according to The Economist – quick to hail the elections’ “success”. The reason ? These elections were less deadly than the previous ones, with “only” 50 people killed, as a result of 33 bombings and 63 rocket attacks…
In order to soften the stance of Western observers and allied troops from Afghanistan towards the shocking standards of the election process, Hamid Karzai had called, as early as August, for an end to the presence of the 52 private military companies (PMC’s) operating on his country’s soil. Noting that “the existence of the mercenaries is contrary to the national interests of the Afghani people” and that the latter “do not trust the mercenaries”, Karzai’ political motivation seems to have been that of embarrassing Washington prior to the September elections and thus stifle eventual criticism.
Still, Karzai is speculating one of the most shameful aspects of the US’ military involvement in Irak and Afghanistan. At no time in the past have the American military been in a more embarrassing international position, standing accused that – through the PMC’s present there – they are profiting from the death and suffering of Irakis and Afghanis and that they are unnecessarily delaying the conclusion of the war in order to continue to receive billions of dollars from the American government.
Although Hilary Clinton, before the 2008 US presidential elections, had even envisaged legislation for the total interdiction of PMC’s abroad, Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, claimed in June this year that PMC’s such as Blackwater are “needed” for ensuring the security of military personnel and bases from Afghanistan (source: Le Monde, “L’Amérique embarrassée par ses mercenaires”, 14.08.2010).
If US supply-siders and assorted neoliberals have pushed the American economy to the brink, the neocons have all but destroyed America’s reputation and standing in the world, as the architects of G.W.Bush’s foreign policy. Neocons believed that they are God-gifted with superior statecraft skills, which would enable them to democratize in only a few years feudal societies like Afghanistan. It is now the Obama Administration’s unenviable task of mopping up after them and salvaging what’s left of the US’s shredded reputation and influence in world affairs.Florian Pantazi