The Revelation of Method continues at breakneck pace.
Today I was enjoying a good laugh over what I initially took to be brilliant satire of the Wall Street Journal in which glowing endorsements were being heaped upon a CIA backed heroin smuggler who's become instrumental in the Coalition's 'war' against the Taliban.
Then I realized the article was totally legit and serious. It really says something about the state of the American public that these kind of revelations are made about the war effort and the knee jerk response of most Journal readers is to go on the defensive. I urge anyone checking out this article to check out the reader comments as well.
Here are a few of my favorite lines from the article:
"American officials in Afghanistan used to call Col. Abdul Razzik a 'malignant actor' who must be sidelined. Now they hail the suspected drug lord as a hero of the new Kandahar offensive and a leader with national potential...In other words the US government seems to feel no apparent need to hide the fact that the bulk of their Afghan 'allies' are nothing but CIA-backed drug lords any longer.
"His reversal of fortune reflects a departure from U.S. counterinsurgency efforts to better governance, marginalize crime-tainted power brokers and win civilians' trust. Since U.S. Gen. David Petraeus took command of coalition forces in July, the military has focused more on killing as many Taliban as possible with the help of whatever local allies can be found, including strongmen whose abuses had made the Taliban popular in the first place...
"Col. Razzik's ability to safeguard the strategic Spin Boldak crossing from the Taliban in recent years has allowed him to stay in office. That job security comes despite what officials in Kabul and Washington say are well-founded concerns that he has been enriching himself and his patron, President Hamid Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, with revenue from heroin smuggling, customs-skimming and bribes...
"The core of Col. Razzik's support comes from his Achakzai tribe, which has long controlled the drug trade in Spin Boldak and fielded a tribal militia to help the pro-Soviet regime in the 1980s. Col. Razzik, whose father served in that militia, says his current force is open to all tribes...
"This reliance on local strongmen isn't limited to Kandahar. The U.S. military is now raising so-called local police forces, a network of anti-Taliban militias that are only loosely affiliated with the formal government structures and that have often been nurtured by Special Forces or the Central Intelligence Agency.
"Col. Razzik, who says he has been working on some operations with the CIA but denies receiving the agency's money, is—alongside Ahmed Wali Karzai, the provincial council chief—a central actor in the crime-tainted political network that maintains a stranglehold over southern Afghanistan, allegedly rigging elections, collecting protection money and smuggling drugs.
"Resentment over this network's behavior, U.S. officials have long said, is a key reason the Taliban have become so strong here. Yet, after a brief effort earlier this year to get President Karzai to remove his brother from Kandahar, and to curb Col. Razzik, coalition commanders say they have concluded that such men are their only significant allies in the south."
Interesting times, indeed.