The West’s Pet Afghans Get Profiled

by Joshua Foust on 8/10/2009 · 2 comments

Brian Glyn Williams, who is actually a legitimate scholar of Afghanistan, write for the new Foreign Policy AfPak Channel that Abdul Rashid Dostum is the Kingmaker of Afghanistan:

But as the jihad ended following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Pashtun-dominated communist government sought to demobilize the Uzbeks who were seen as ghulams (“Turkic slave warriors”). Forewarned of the government’s plans, Dostum mutinied and seized the northern plains town of Mazar-e-Sharif. Dostum’s seizure of the holy shrine town in April 1992 deprived the government of the mandate to rule the land and led to the central government’s collapse… On Nov. 9, 2001, he once again seized Mazar-e-Sharif, and this led to the collapse of the Taliban house of cards, thus preventing the United States from having to launch a frontal invasion of the Afghan “graveyard of empires” in winter.

Well. Isn’t that neat and pat: Dostum is Afghanistan’s savior! Unless you listen to fellow AfPak Channel contributor Jean MacKenzie, the Afghanistan director of IWPR. She writes that Ashraf Ghani is really Afghanistan’s Kingmaker:

But if Karzai and Abdullah are to go head-to-head in October, the decisive vote may well belong to the No. 3 candidate, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

Ghani is the former finance minister who is credited with getting Afghanistan up and running following the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001. He quit abruptly in 2004, in a dispute with the president over the pace of reform. Ghani has a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University, has worked for the World Bank and was in the running for Secretary General of the United Nations when Kofi Annan retired in 2006.

But Ghani’s ego appears to be almost as large as his intellect. When asked what had happened to the promise of the early Karzai years, he said, directly and with no apparent irony, “I left.”

Oh great. I’m awaiting the inevitable boot-licking piece about how Abdullah Abdullah is really the secret ingredient to Afghan success. Or—heaven help us—Gul Agha Sherzai.

Or, here’s an idea: we stop playing “who’s your favorite pet Afghan” and actually try discussing the country’s needs and concerns. Despite years of unbelievable failure doing it, we’re still desperately searching for our favorite magic Afghan who will rule the land in peace and unity.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1849 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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