A Pros and Cons List for Including Karzai in the Fight Against Corruption

The Obama administration has a difficult choice in front of them. Okay, a few difficult choices. But this one concerns whether or not to give Hamid Karzai a more central role in the investigation into rampant corruption within Afghanistan’s government, including notifying him before any arrests are made. To be helpful, we have made our government a list of pros and cons.

1. It might send mixed messages. Until now, the administration’s strategy has been to blame Karzai for the corruption.
2. The president’s brother Mahmoud Karzai is a shareholder in Kabul Bank. After the president named the brother of another shareholder as his running mate, the bank poured millions into Karzai’s reelection. It’s currently at the center of “a financial crisis that has exposed the shadowy workings of the country’s business and political elite.”
3. Last month, Karzai personally intervened to get a top political aide who’d been detained on corruption charges out of jail, admitting later, “I intervened very, very strongly.” (Karzai claimed investigators were violating the rights of detainees.)
4. He already has big plans for revamping the self-contained, American-mentored anti-corruption units, saying, “Tomorrow I will be giving a new instruction to bring these two bodies in accordance to the Afghan laws and within the sovereignty of the Afghan state,” perhaps misunderstanding the investigation’s position on Afghan laws.
5. He’s made decisions NATO calls counterproductive, like demanding two of the country’s top three security officials resign.

1. Including him in the investigation against bribery would make a very nice bribe. Growing tension between the U.S. and Afghanistan could alienate Karzai and sabotage the larger battle against Osama bin Laden WMDs things that are not democracy the Taliban. Sort of like picking the more presidential of the two evils.

U.S. Debates Karzai’s Place in Fighting Corruption [NYT]

A Pros and Cons List for Including Karzai in the Fight Against Corruption