If we don’t bail out the Kabul Bank – the notoriously corrupt institution run by Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the Afghan "president," which has handed out millions in "loans" to Karzai’s cronies – will the terrorists have won? Well, yes, according to Mahmoud, who demands that America "do something," i.e. hand over lots of cash.
Khalil Frozi, another Karzai crony, and one of the two largest shareholders, said a "revolution" would occur unless the US Treasury department acted to guarantee that "everyone gets their money."
Hey, a revolution might not be such a bad idea, as far as Afghanistan is concerned: with the Karzai government swept away, that would at least take care of half the nation’s problems.
Sparked by the announcement that the bank was being "reorganized," with the chairman, Mr. Frozi, as well as chief financial officer Sherkhan Farnood ousted, Kabul Bank is threatened by a classic bank run, with throngs of depositors lining up and demanding their money. It appears that the two former bank officers and their friends – Afghan government officials, for the most part – basically looted the bank, investing in Dubai real estate which has plummeted in value. They were handing out loans like candy to political insiders, such as Haseen Fahim, brother of the vice president.
With Afghans clamoring to get their money out of the bank, and soldiers, teachers, and government personnel worried that they might not be getting paid – a key task handled by the bank – the entire economic infrastructure set up in the wake of the Taliban’s fall is in danger of collapsing. Oh, but don’t worry, says President Karzai: "We’ve got enough cash to support the bank. Even if the whole financial system in Afghanistan collapses, we have enough money to support it."
Of course they have enough money to support the corruption and outright thievery at the core of the Afghan banking "system" – courtesy of the US taxpayer.
Sensitive to the politics of bank bailouts, which have had such enormous repercussions here in the US, American officials deny they have any plans to open up the cash spigot and save Kabul Bank, but the reality is that they don’t have to take any special measures: the Karzai gang has already held us up for billions, and can with confidence expect many billions more. Think of it as our Afghan "stimulus."
When will this madness end? With over a hundred US banks closed since January, and 829 more in danger of failure, why is one penny of our tax dollars going to prop up the make-believe "Bank of Kabul," whose demise would be a blessing to the country if not to its depositors? When are we going to stop "nation-building" in Afghanistan, and start rebuilding our own nation?
In his speech to the nation declaring the supposed "end" of "combat operations" in Iraq, President Obama showed due sensitivity to this question, averring that
"Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk."
Precisely – but what is the President doing to refocus our energies on solving the crisis on the home front? He’s giving us the same old jive about the "three d’s" – we must "disrupt, dismantle, and defeat" al-Qaeda, which is not even in Afghanistan aside from fifty or so alleged holdouts. The Iraq non-withdrawal will supposedly give us the resources to "do the job" in Afghanistan, but the President and his supporters have no satisfactory answer to the question: is this a job worth doing?
Time and again the bloody shirt of 9/11 is raised: we must keep al-Qaeda from "plotting" to pull off a repeat. But why couldn’t this "plotting" be done in say, Yemen, or one of the ex-Soviet ‘stans? In any case, in order to plan and execute the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an overseas "safe haven" wasn’t required, in Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter, because, Mohammed Atta and his boys were doing their plotting in the US.
Politically, as well as economically, the Afghan war is increasingly unsustainable, and Obama appears to realize this: thus his defensive rhetoric and the waving of the bloody shirt. That’s always the War Party’s argument of last resort. Yet polls show it isn’t working all that well, and the President rightly fears a rebellion by the voters: he’s already seeing a revolt against his domestic policies by the tea partiers, and the Democrats are down by a whopping 10 percent in the polls. What if Americans wake up to the fact that not only are our own banksters being bailed out, but so are Afghanistan’s? It was the bank bailout on the home front that ignited the tea party movement: the same issue superimposed on the Afghan mess could have similar repercussions in the foreign policy field.
Our President, a captive of the bipartisan foreign policy of global intervention, no doubt knows it’s time for America to come home, but seems helpless to change course. That helplessness may sweep away his presidency, just as a similar paralysis swept away that of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Vietnam era. More than that, it may catalyze a growing left-right movement against our crazy foreign policy of all war all the time.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
I’m taking Labor Day – Monday – off: I figured I’ve labored enough to justify a short but much-needed vacation. I’ll be back on Wednesday. Oh, and this weekend, I’ll be on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s "Freedom Watch" again. Sat. 10AM & 8PM and Sun. 7PM and 11PM EDT, on the Fox Business Network.
Thanks so much to all who contributed to our recent fundraising drive: I was nervous about it right up until the last moment, but we finally made it and it’s a great relief. We really do hate to dun our readers for money, but there’s no way around it. We need your support to keep going – and we’re so very grateful that you continue to give it. Thanks to one and all.