Eikenberry’s cables now, at this stage, read like a summary of the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. And that’s the first installment of papers that we need right now. Just change the place names from “Saigon” to “Kabul” and the Afghan national forces serving as the surrogate of our mercenary ARVN of Vietnam, and they read almost exactly the same. He’s describing the President, Karzai, to whom he’s accredited and who he just visited with President Obama. And Karzai has presumably read Eikenberry’s assessment of him as—that he is not an adequate strategic partner for the United States, and for reasons of corruption and inefficiency.
Allegedly, we hear that Obama’s reason for going seventeen hours over to Afghanistan was to convey in person our desire that he clean up his government. I’m really reminded of when Kennedy and Johnson decided to enlist our Mafia in an effort to get Castro. I don’t think they spent time telling the Mafia, “By the way, it’ll be helpful to us, if you’re going to be our partner, to clean up your act, get out of the drug business.” In Karzai’s government, as in the Mafia, corruption are us, drugs are us. Corruption is his government. That’s his constituency, his source of income. There is no chance whatever that he’ll, for instance, root out his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, from Kandahar, which is our next base of operations, despite the fact that our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says no success is possible in Kandahar while corruption is still the heart of that, while drug dealing is the heart of that, so long as Wali, the President’s, Karzai’s brother, is in charge there.
It’s obviously—it’s not just a symbolism. It’s the fact that we have a government there that has no prospect of achieving legitimacy in the eyes of the people we’re supposedly appealing to in Afghanistan. And that’s symbolic of the whole effort. There is no prospect of any kind of success in Afghanistan, any more than the Soviets achieved in their ten years there, just as in Vietnam we really had no realistic prospect of more success than the French. But countries find it very hard to learn from the failures of other countries.