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Hamid Karzai

Meet President Hamid Karzai, the first elected president of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.  After 2014 his government will be responsible for protecting the country which thousands of Americans, Afghans, and international troops have died to sustain.  It is in debate if he is up to the task.

In order to answer this question we must analyze who Hamid Karzai is

Karzai was always going to be a politician.  He first made a name for himself in the ranks of the Mujahedeen, freedom fighters resisting the Russian annexation of Afghanistan.  He gained notoriety fundraising for the Mujahedeen in Pakistan and fame by leading negotiations uniting conflicting factions and directing mass defections of domestic opposition.  In 1992 he served as the Deputy Foreign Minister in the Afghanistan government.  The Taliban’s growing influence hedged him out of the country.  It was not until the 1999 assassination of his father, by the Taliban, that Karzai began his crusade to end the radical regime.  It was not until the events of September 11, 2001 that Karzai got his opportunity.

During Operation Enduring Freedom, the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Karzai fought with his tribe to bring a new government to Afghanistan.  He met stiff resistance from the Taliban, who were specifically targeted him to deny Afghanistan of one of his finest negotiators.  Friendly fire, from American missiles, hit his troops and seriously injured Karzai.  He became the chairman of the transitional government and was essential to the negotiations which brought about a unified government in Afghanistan.

2004 was the peak of Karzai’s career.  He was elected the President of Afghanistan with 55.4% of the vote.  Numerous obstructions marred his presidency and public opinion depreciated.  Systematic corruption eroded public faith in the government.  Isolated and accidental killings of civilians by Afghan and NATO forces turned distrust into anger.   The Taliban was still at large in the southeastern parts of Afghanistan.  Illegal poppy fields remained the cash crop for the insurgency and the Afghan government could not cull the fields.  Karzai fiercely insisted to not use chemical herbicides against the poppy growers, due to fears of a much more volatile civil war, have stifled progress against the drugs.  IED’s, suicide bombers, and ambushes have only spread anger and dissention.

In  2009 Karzai won the reelection with only with just over fifty percent of the popular vote.  Accusations of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation, and a key opponent mysteriously dropping out just before the runoff election have left Karzai’s government under heavy suspicion.  It took over a year for him to place all of his advisors because the Afghan Parliament rejected many due to the candidate’s ties with warlords and inability to perform.

Criticisms are multiplying.  International activists have denounced his administration as one of the most corrupt in the world.  Millions of dollars of international aid have simply disappeared.  Widespread desertion is common in the Afghan military and discipline in the ranks is nonexistence.  Deserters often turn up in the ranks of the Taliban.

Karzai will be the President of Afghanistan until 2014, at which time international forces will complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan.  It is my opinion that Karzai is not up to challenge.  He has failed to rejuvenates a country which desperately needs strong leadership.  He is probably one of the best men in Afghanistan to mediate fair negotiations.  However, that is not the role of the President:  presidents must act, and Karzai does not seem to be reforming in a hurry.

Source: BBC, New York TimesBiography.com, Wikipedia

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