Any Afghan 'Surge' Is a Snare and a Delusion

Given the record of Goldman Sachs (as detailed in McClatchy's five-part series), AIG, Halliburton and other supposedly upright U.S. corporations, it's a tad arrogant to complain about the corruption of other countries. Endemic or not, the wink-wink, nod-nod deals of much of the Third World amount to peanuts when compared with the rip-offs visited on taxpayers, investors and consumers here at home. So, while the U.S. ranks 19th on the Transparency Index's corruption scale, and Afghanistan ranks 179th, one step off the bottom, there's a little more to the picture than can be addressed by such metrics.

Be that as it may, corruption is viewed as one of the key obstacles in dealing with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. That corruption, as the "leaked cables" sent to the White House by U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Karl Eikenberry pointed out, may make the sending of more troops foolish if President Karzai, newly sworn in after a tainted election, cannot be made to root it out. As Tom Engelhardt explains, however, rooting it out is like asking Karzai either to commit suicide or "drink the sea":

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