By Selena Zito GETTYSBURG ‚Äď He almost was not asked to speak. In October 1863, President Abraham Lincoln received the same plain envelope that...
“History 101″ by Ira Schwartz
George Santayana, Spanish born American Philosopher, Poet and Humorist said, ‚ÄúThose who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it‚ÄĚ This is a quote I‚Äôve used before. Usually I don‚Äôt like to repeat myself but after today‚Äôs news story regarding Afghani President Karzai I feel I must.
History is a funny thing; it displays the crowning successes and the devastating failures in plain language for all to see. However failure and success is a subjective thing depending on which side of the fence you are sitting. The battle at Little Big Horn was a disaster for the U.S. Cavalry, not to mention George Armstrong Custer, but a glorious success for the American Indians, at least temporarily. If history teaches us anything it teaches us that glorious success are fleeting but crushing defeats last forever.
If we look back at world history we discover a chilling fact. All governments, no matter what form they take, are notoriously short sighted. They make policy based on what‚Äôs happening in the world at that moment never thinking of the effect it will have ten, twenty or one hundred years down the road. As a result, in the last century alone, murderous villains like Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were allowed to not only grab power but to keep it for years. Not only that we actually at one time supported the likes of Hussein and Bin Laden as well as the Shah of Iran. I know I left out the brain dead Abmadinejad and that nut job in North Korea, Il-Sung but I only have so much room and the list just seems to go on forever.
It appears George W. Bush and Barrack H. Obama are a little weak with their history. If they both had been better students a criminal like Hamid Karzai might never have illegally won the Afghani Presidency or gotten US support.
Tuesday President Karzai passed a law removing UN observers from his countries Electoral Watchdog Committee. These observers were placed there to review any anomalies during Afghani elections. In other words their job was to detect fraud.
Karzai spokesman Siamak Herawi said, ‚ÄúThe Afghan government for long has wanted to ‘Afghanise’ the electoral process and 10 days ago, the cabinet ratified the amendment and the president endorsed it.” He continued to say that parliament could not overturn the law, since Karzai had signed it into effect when the legislature was in recess. Well at least Karzai has learned one thing from the Obama Administration; if you want to pass an unpopular bill do it when no one is around to vote against it. The fact that parliamentary elections are in 6 months casts further suspicion on the move.
This is not the first time the Karzai government has been linked to corruption. Voter fraud was discovered in the first Presidential election that Karzai won and his brothers, Mahmoud and Amid Wali are suspected of running the country‚Äôs 3 Billion dollar opium trade. The Obama administration has become so frustrated with him President Obama, in a phone call on November 2nd to the newly re-elected president made his displeasure crystal clear. Clean up your administration or else. Kind of funny it‚Äôs almost like the pot calling the kettle black.
Fox News reported that an official with access to Karzai‚Äôs inner circle said, “The US administration warned that if he doesn’t meet the conditions within six months, Obama has told him America will pull out. Obama said they don’t want their soldiers’ lives wasted for nothing. They want changes in Cabinet and changes in his personal staff.” That was almost four months ago.
NPR reports that nearly a third of Afghans say they have personally experienced corruption when trying to obtain an official government document, according to a large-scale survey of the Afghan people conducted by the Asia Foundation.
“The people have lost complete confidence in their government, which wasn’t the case before,” says Nipa Banerjee, who ran the Afghan aid program for the Canadian International Development Agency from 2003 to 2006. “The legitimacy of the government is very much at stake.”
More than a quarter of Afghans told the Asia Foundation’s pollsters that they have seen corruption firsthand when dealing with Afghan courts and judges.
“In many areas, it’s at the point where people don’t even go to the formal justice system,” says Masood Karokhail, deputy director of the Tribal Liaison Office, a private Afghan group that works on local governance issues. “The majority of people don’t think there is justice in Afghanistan now.”
So what can the U.S. government do? Nothing‚Ä¶and Karzai knows it. He will continue to do what he wants as long as NATO troops are there to protect him. Karzai and his family will grow richer as his people grow poorer and the opium trade will flourish, financed by American dollars.
American history is full of short sighted political decisions that eventually come back to bite us in the posterior. You would have thought we‚Äôd know better by now. The world has become a very dangerous place and the United States must take some of the blame for that. The big question is‚Ä¶.What do we do next? Maybe our leaders should be required to take a history course before they are allowed to take office. I suggest History 101.
¬© 2010 by Ira Schwartz. Used with permission. All rights reserved.