RFE/RL president writes about corruption and foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Posted: 10 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
"During my recent visit to Afghanistan, I got the chance to meet with military officers, mullahs, and senior government ministers, as well as journalists, NGO activists, parliamentarians, provincial governors, tribal leaders, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai himself. ... Yes, corruption is an issue for Afghans. It damages the credibility of the government in the eyes of its own people. Some argue that it plays into the hands of Taliban leaders who tell people, 'Support us and we'll give what Afghanistan's Western-backed government cannot provide: justice and security.' But there's also concern here that Afghan corruption has become an unhealthy obsession in Western capitals, accompanied by unrealistic expectations that distract from the most immediate concern: defeating the insurgents. ... Given what the country has gone through over the last 30 years, it's a miracle that everyone I've met here still wants foreign troops -- led by the United States and its allies -- to stay." Jeffrey Gedmin, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Foreign Policy, 8 April 2010.
     "RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today at the end of a five-day trip to promote media freedom in Afghanistan. 'A country with centuries of history, of cultural complexity, and a downtrodden economy that has been ravaged by war wants to feel respected,' said Karzai, whose anti-Western remarks have made international headlines over the past week. ... 'We need Radio Azadi,' Afghan Deputy Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Yaqub Ahmadzai told Gedmin. 'Some of us even adjust our prayer schedules so we don't miss the news programs.'" RFE/RL press release, 6 April 2010.
     "The Obama administration is making a mistake by sending Afghan President Hamid Karzai the forceful and repeated message that it's not happy with his regime, says analyst Fareed Zakaria. He says the United States has been voicing 'great frustration and discomfort with Karzai. I just think it's the wrong message. It's self-indulgent. Yes there are lots of problems with Karzai, but we don't have any other options.' ... CNN: Some have said that this is reminiscent of the Diem regime in Vietnam. Zakaria: Every situation that the United States is in presents you with that dilemma because, by Jeffersonian standards, none of these guys measure up." CNN International, 9 April 2010.