CIA Bribing Scandal Raises Controversy
by Constantine Velmahos on Friday, May 17th, 2013
Recent scandals of the C.I.A. depositing bags of U.S. dollars at the offices of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president are fueling multiple protests against Washington’s foreign “diplomacy.” For over a decade, the C.I.A. has been supplying the corrupt Afghan government with stacks of taxpayer dollars that have been “dropped off every month or so,” according to Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times. The C.I.A. ostensibly began these payments in an attempt to influence the Afghan regime, but it seems to have had little impact on the overall command of the country; according to an unnamed American official, the money has stimulated even more corruption within the nation and weakened President Obama’s exit strategy from the war zone.
This type of corrupt imperialism should come as no surprise, as America has tried to control the Middle East with money and power for over 30 years. When the Russians invaded Kabul in 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed one of the first orders to financially aid the guerrilla opponents of the Soviet regime, the Taliban. Eleven years later, the U.S., along with other powerful allies, agreed to cut down the $14 billion Egyptian debt as long as President Hosni Mubarak maintained a peace treaty with Israel, one of the United States’ strongest allies. From 2001 until 2008, influential American officials reportedly met with President Gaddafi multiple times to discuss how “to win the propaganda war… and [give] advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement,” according to an Al Jazeera search of the demolished Libyan intelligence agency.
Quite clearly, the U.S. has tried to control power shifts in the Middle East over the past 30 years. Since the U.S.’s ascent to power in the modern world half a century ago, involvement of our country within the Middle East has increased dramatically, and the benefits are obvious: oil, oil, and oil. Containing less than 5% of the world’s population, yet consuming about 25% of the world’s oil production, the United States has a desperate hunger for the “black gold.” From a short-term perspective, the idea of encouraging America’s favored regimes is ideal. Money, especially cash, buys silence and power and is usually untraceable. However, when corrupt officials become greedy, the oppressed become restless, and civil unrest reaches unprecedented levels. Those unscrupulous officials attempt to extort America for more money to solve the problems caused by those oppressed people, and the cycle of corruption continues.
Recently, the U.S.’s role in Afghanistan, a country where the balance between war and peace could break at any moment, has begun to change. According to Khalil Roman, President Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002-2005, the United States provides cash to maintain access to the center of Afghanistan’s very tight government. However, these payments do not elicit docility from the Afghan government. Apparently, Karzai is encouraging the C.I.A.-trained Afghan militias to instigate and target operatives of Al Qaeda, potentially undermining Obama’s strategy for fighting Al Qaeda. Furthermore, Karzai’s willingness to openly oppose the United States, by revealing the influxes of American dollars in his offices, shows that not only can his influence not be controlled but his silence can also not be bought.
The U.S.’s financial involvement, one of many, has turned extremely sour. Originally, the C.I.A. had supplied the guerrilla jihad group – the Taliban — with firearms and money to overthrow the Soviet regime, only to have the Taliban to rise to power as one of history’s most extremist administrations. The C.I.A. is repeating its mistakes, only in a different manner. This money is not directly helping a regime rise to power, but rather cementing Mr. Karzai’s government while various warlords in Afghanistan gain more power.
Even worse, this money does not seem to be helping the people of these Middle Eastern countries in the least. The C.I.A.’s money is handled by a select few group of people at cabinet meetings, one of whom was Mohammed Zia Salehi, a corrupt government official, up until he was arrested and linked to Taliban aiding, illegal opium trading, and cash smuggling two years ago. An unnamed American official said that “the biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.”
Certainly, the C.I.A. deserves our faith, as it has guided our country’s covert operations through the Cold War, Vietnam, and conflicts with Al Qaeda. However, all these problems pertained to the United States as a country. Afghanistan’s public and private affairs have no relation with the United States, other than our peace treaty between our two governments–unless, of course, some unknown power play is at work. We must reconsider our stance in the Middle East and whether our money is being used effectively. Power is vital in a region where instability is so common. But when the administration, with which we are paying millions of dollars to cooperate, begins to take advantage of the United States’ resources, we must begin to consider whether this power grab is a good investment.
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