Bush vs. Karzai

Sometimes a simple pairing of quotes speaks volumes. Case in point – Presidential comments about Iran by Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai and America’s George Bush.
Yesterday, Karazai appeared on CNN’s Late Edition. Karzai bluntly conceded that “the security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated.” Karzai also affirmed as “exactly true” US General David Rodriguez’ assessment there has been a 50-60% increase in foreign fighters comings into Afghanistan from Pakistan over the past year.
By contrast, Karzai contradicted recent US (and media) contentions that Iran has likewise been a growing source of trouble in Afghanistan:

BLITZER: “The U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, William Wood, suggested in June that Iran is playing a significant role in the security situation in Afghanistan as well. “There is no question,” he said, that weaponry of Iranian types has been entering Afghanistan for some time in amounts that make it hard to imagine that the Iranian government is not aware that this is happening.” Is Iran directly involved in the security situation — the deteriorating
security situation in Afghanistan?
KARZAI: We have had reports of the kind you just mentioned. We are looking into these reports. Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan, in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan. Iran has been a participant in the — both processes. They then have contributed steadily to Afghanistan. We have had very, very good, very, very close relations, thanks in part also to an understanding of the United States in this regard, and an environment of understanding between the two, the Iranian government and the United States government, in Afghanistan. We will continue to have good relations with Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.
BLITZER: Well, is Iran a problem or a solution as far as you are concerned? Are they helping you or hurting?
KARZAI: Well, so far Iran has been a helper and a solution.”

Nothing new in that, really, as Karzai (and former key Bush Administration officials like Flynt Leverett) have long been more positive about Iran’s disposition towards Afghanistan since 9/11. Yet Karzai’s reiteration of a positive view of Iran flatly presents a problem for the Bush Administration as it rolls out the Iran-on-the-march bogey to justify massive new arms sales to the Saudis.
Consider then Bush’s intense response today to a question about Karzai’s comments:

Q “President Karzai said yesterday that he believed Iran was playing a helpful role in Afghanistan. Was he able to convince you in your meetings that that was the case, or do you still have concerns about Iran’s role?…
PRESIDENT BUSH: It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that they’re a stabilizing force as opposed to a destabilizing force. After all, this is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon. This is a government that is in defiance of international accord, a government that seems to be willing to thumb its nose at the international community and, at the same time, a government that denies its people a rightful place in the world and denies its people the ability to realize their full potential.
So I believe that it’s in the interests of all of us that we have an Iran that tries to stabilize, not destabilize; an Iran that gives up its weapons ambitions. And therefore, we’re working to that end. The President knows best about what’s taking place in his country, and of course, I’m willing to listen. But from my perspective, the burden of proof is on the Iranian government to show us that they’re a positive force.”

In other words, for the Bush Administration, the Iranians must prove a negative, that they’re not up to “no good” in Afghanistan – never mind what an otherwise close American ally like Karzai has to say on the matter.
While he was at it, Bush threw in a bone for the “regime change” crowd:

“And I must tell you that this current leadership… is a big disappointment to the people of Iran. The people of Iran could be doing a lot better than they are today. “

Another clarion call from the black kettle to the pot…. Such rhetorical bombast helped Iran’s President Ahmadinejad get elected in the first place. But no matter.
Not seriously interested in inconvenient evidence to the contrary, President Bush retreats to the all-too-familiar neocon script on Iran:

“But because of the actions of this government, this country is isolated. And we will continue to work to isolate it, because they’re not a force for good, as far as we can see. They’re a destabilizing influence wherever they are.”

Preach it.

19 thoughts on “Bush vs. Karzai

  1. Inkan1969

    In these statements as well as others Hamid Karzai has shown himself to have more political savvy and be more aware of the political situation then you would expect a “puppet” to have. If only he had enough political power to act on his knowhow effectively.

  2. Scott

    “Savvy” and “diplomatic.” (I recall too the various rhetorical spats w/ Pakistan over the past year, including where they traded barbs about the whereabouts of Bin Laden, et. al. Musharraf’s reputation has flagged so much lately that he seems bent on doing the unthinkable – bringing Benazir Bhutto back into Pakistan….)
    Anyway, as the transcript shows, Karzai let Bush’s comments about Iran pass – and naturally, the supplicant whitehouse media didn’t press him.
    I also am struck by the “ironic nerve” of these Bush comments — especially the line about “thumbing noses at the international community….”
    Let’s see now, which country gets the lowest rankings in opinion polls of the “international community?

  3. Lansing Shepard

    Helena,
    Bush actually said “After all, this is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon.”? And no one called him on that?

  4. Michael Murry

    I’d like to comment on your comments, Scott, but since I live overseas in Taiwan, I have to keep in mind what that bunch of babbling bed-wetters in the so-called Congress of the United States just did: namely, give away without a whimper my Fourth Amendment constitutional rights to security in my person, papers, residence, et cetera, from any and all unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause or due warrant, et cetera, et cetera. Apparently, neither my American citizenship through birth, nor my six years of honorable service in the United States Navy matter one iota to these inbred idiots. Obviously, the word “unalienable,” as in: “No one can rob me of my rights, nohow, no way,” means about as much now as “sovereignty” means to Iraqis and Afghans. What a pathetic, pusillanimous pack of posing puppets our politicians have become.
    It frankly escapes me how anyone in their right mind could or would trust a lying, corrupt, incompetent American government — especially one that contains Republicans and the current crop of quisling, enbabling Democrats — to sniff and snoop into every crook and cranny of our personal lives. As I said in a new poem fragment in another post:
    They pry into our persons
    Upon our lives they dwell
    Whatever they discover
    They either lose or sell

    I learned way back in junior high school civics class that only by a due and proper process of amendment can we Americans change our Constitution in any way. I might have missed something, but I don’t see where anything like that due and proper process has taken place. If the Supine Court — especially the “strict constructionist” dullards that now infest it — lets this travesty stand, then we might as well time-travel back to the year 2000 when nearly the identical group of reactionary Republican Party hacks decided not to award the Presidency to the man a majority of Americans had voted to elect.
    So, Scott, in view of the fact that my Constitutional rights — formerly “unalienable” — have somehow gotten “alienated” from me nonetheless, I’ll just have to heed former White House Press Spokesman Ari Fleischer’s overt threat to “take care what you say and do,” or some words to that intimidating effect.
    On the other hand — and with the middle finger of it raised and pointed straight at the soiled-panty parade of prevaricating parasites — I loudly say (and I hope the eavesdropping invertebrates have got this on tape or disk): “Fuck them, and the corpulent corporate pig they rode in on.”
    We certainly live in The Times That Buy Men’s Souls. Too many baby boys and girls have sold too many souls too cheaply, or for nothing at all. If I hadn’t lived through and survived just such an episode of national insanity four decades ago, I would say that I simply can’t believe this. But, unfortunately, I can. As Elmer Gantry said: “When I became a man, I ceased thinking childish thoughts.” Too bad so many of my countrymen never grew up enough to say the same.

  5. Truesdell

    Why is it in Karzai’s interest to publicly take a shot at Iran whatever the “truth” happens to be? Is his government so secure that he can afford to alienate the mullahs ruling neighboring Iran?

  6. Shirin

    He can certainly afford to alienate “the mullahs ruling Iran” a whole lot more than he can afford to alienate the superpower that occupies Afghanistan, that keeps him in his position, and that can oust him any time it wants to.

  7. edq

    “Why is it in Karzai’s interest to publicly take a shot at Iran whatever the “truth” happens to be?”
    Truesdell, you seem to be trying to support the claim of Iranian perfidy in Afghanistan by questioning Karzai’s statement.
    However, it is Bush’s statements that need to be questioned given his track record. There seems to be a denial by the U.S. press of his long record of lying and criminality.

  8. Truesdell

    Truesdell, you seem to be trying to support the claim of Iranian perfidy in Afghanistan by questioning Karzai’s statement.
    au contraire…I wasn’t taking a position on the Bush Administration’s allegations…simply imagining myself in Karzai’s place.

  9. Susan - NC

    If you take bush’s comments and insert “USA” where “Iran” is, then they do make sense.

  10. Salah

    Bush vs. Karzai
    In same talken, then these are valid cases as this case of Bush vs. Karzai
    Bush vs. Ban Ki-moon
    Bush vs. John Howard
    Bush vs. Gordon Brown
    Bush vs. Tony Blair
    …….
    But whatever Scott sensitivity when word “Iran” comes, let viewing the things from different angle and in bigger picture, out of the “Bush vs. Karzai” Box.
    Iran had and have fingers here and their, Mullah playing their game with Satan, but in this time US using the Mullah as they did before when they used Saddam for 13 years milking OIL dollars from those jumpy Ameers and Kings in Arabian’s Gulf States with Oil prices very high and the revenues exceeded the needs of most oil Gulf states so its time to creating a new enemy which is now dressed as Mullah of Iran, but hiddenly US talking to Mullah from back doors inside Iraq very friendly throw US Ambassador Ryan Crocker with Iranian envoy Hassan Kazemi Qomi they faced off for a third time While US blame also Syrians and Saudis of their mangling in Iraq case by sending their “Jihads” but they did not include them in this security subcommittees!!
    Where is the truth? I leave it to your imaginations.

  11. Scott

    fyi – John Nichols “take” on Karzai/Bush/Iran:
    http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/?pid=220487
    A foreign leader from a region of supreme interest to the United States… speaks his mind, offering his best assessment of the experience he is living. Then the president tells the visitor from abroad that he is wrong.
    As Bush famously declared at a policy session in 2005, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
    And it is just so damned inconvenient when a puppet who is supposed to help spread the propaganda instead messes everything up by talking about what is really happening.”

  12. Inkan1969

    Truesdell, if you’re imagining yourself in Karzai’s position, you should note that Iran is right next door to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has to live with Iran no matter what, and so it seems prudent to maintain a cordial relationship with Iran. Compare that with how Nouri al-Maliki makes trips to Iran all the time. Karzai can also use support from Iran as a counterweight to Pakistani meddling.
    I’ve only heard allegations of Iranian sabotage from the Bush administration, and so I find the accusations highly unreliable. And think of this, motivation from Iran to commit any sabotage in Afghanistan might come from the hostile standing the Bush administration is taking against Iran. Since Afghanistan is seen as a U.S. client Iran may feel motivated to target it, in contradiction to the anti-Shi’ite sentiments of the Taliban. So perhaps if the U.S. would relent on its hostile standing and instead work on a detente like relationship with Iran, then Iran wouldn’t have any reason to be concerned about Afghanistan, maybe even cooperate with Karzai against the mutual enemy.

  13. Scott

    Today’s reports in the WaPo & NYT were pathetic, with the former focusing on Bush instructing Karzai. General white-wash.
    FYI, from tomorrow’s CSMonitor — which at least takes a stab at evaluating the merits of the disagreement. (though I find the bent of the article quite bizarre):
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0808/p06s01-wosc.html?page=1
    Little rant: I get tired of the standard Monitor way of lending alleged credibility to a story, “analysts say….” (in this case to try to lend some credibility to the thesis advanced, that somehow the truth is between Bush & Karzai…. Notice, however, that many of the few actual quotes from the “analysts” are less than supportive of the theme that the author wished to push…)
    … and oh by the way, nothing in the article about Pakistan or Saudi sources of trouble in Afghanistan — a cynic might think this essentially is the Monitor stooping down to rescue the President and stay on the good side of the Neocons….
    Notice too that this reporter is yet another “shared” product w/ another paper — this time USA Today.

  14. Truesdell

    Truesdell, if you’re imagining yourself in Karzai’s position, you should note that Iran is right next door to Afghanistan. Afghanistan has to live with Iran no matter what, and so it seems prudent to maintain a cordial relationship with Iran. Compare that with how Nouri al-Maliki makes trips to Iran all the time. Karzai can also use support from Iran as a counterweight to Pakistani meddling.
    precisely.

  15. salah

    But the point is that the right of the US to use force and violence and the illegitimacy of any resistance to it is a Holy Doctrine, which cannot be questioned in polite society, even thought about. Therefore debate is confined to the marginal question of whether Iran is in fact providing support to forces opposing the US occupation.
    Noam Chomsky
    http://blogs.zmag.org/node/2960

  16. Roland

    Helena and readers
    My apologies for butting in, I wasn’t sure where to put this message.
    I’d just like to draw your attention to some questionable material about service people in Iraq you have in part covered before. The material taken down buy the sheriffs office is now on youtube as a slideshow of the same photos called “Iraq + Army Women + Camera + Time = (CENSORED)”.
    Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact there are numerous clips of one PFC Hayes, stolen from her computer while she was stationed in Iraq. A search on Iraq in Youtube will find several of them. I gather Hayes was raped by some of her fellow servicemen in a later incident while still stationed there. Disgusting as it is, I cannot help but think that this clip is now actually being used as a recruiting tool. If so, would Hillary or any for that matter other mainstream politician in America want to express an an opinion on such an issue?

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