Zalmay Khalilzad as Afghan CEO?

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zad 1.jpgHelene Cooper’s scoop that former US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad is working to arrange a deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to serve as “CEO” of Afghanistan is fascinating — but also troubling.
I like Khalilzad, who was potentially a candidate for the presidency of Afghanistan but missed a recent filing deadline for the race and who also repeatedly denied to others and me that he would pursue this course. However, when I interviewed Khalilzad in January of this year, he said he was working on something that would involve him in Afghanistan’s future.
Now we know what sort of deal he was thinking about.
It’s not clear how a President and a CEO, that is unaccountable to any part of the elected Afghan government, would function — but Cooper’s New York Times report implies that both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have ‘not objected’ to the idea and have not expressed concerns other than saying that this needs to be a decision made by Karzai.
Khalilzad brings considerable deal-making strengths and has a good understanding of both the downsides and upsides of serious nation-building efforts.
Obviously, the downside of Khalilzad’s potential next job is that it further undermines the “democracy narrative” that many want to cling to as a justification for America’s deep engagement in Afghanistan. Such a move to create a national CEO — that is rife with potential political challenges and uncertainties as to how it would work — is nonetheless not really part of a larger democratic governance message.
But count me as one intrigued and cautiously optimistic.
Khalilzad’s role in Afghanistan could benefit from having a foot in the US political system, a foot in the Afghan system, and a foot in the world of transnational diplomatic and aid institutions.
That’s three feet, but Khalilzad has managed three-footedness before.
For those interested, a short interview and discussion I had with Zalmay Khalilzad in January of this year is here:
A longer version of a New America Foundation discussion I had with him in January 2009 is here.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

35 comments on “Zalmay Khalilzad as Afghan CEO?

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    Bush was the CEO preznit. Why not do the same with the people who will effectively control our foreign policy? They are simply calling war shots from new positions.
    That’s why Cheney is so brash.
    This isn’t a Democracy we run, it’s more like a pantomine of the notion.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090601/reyes
    “A number of veterans and I are forming a group called Vets for Rethinking Afghanistan. We will voice our dissent in Congress, testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and meet with any Representatives willing to listen. We will raise awareness about how our military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq have been counterproductive. We will express the dire need for the Obama administration to provide both an exit strategy and a more clearly defined mission and we will explain how dangerous it is for the US to use humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip to advance a flawed military agenda without giving diplomacy a real chance. Please join me in this cause”

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney
    by Paul Craig Roberts, May 21, 2009
    America has lost her soul, and so has her president.
    A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.
    The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.
    The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.
    continues……
    http://original.antiwar.com/roberts/2009/05/20/watching-obama-morph-into-dick-cheney/
    Obama’s course is set and his presidency is already stained the familiar blood-red
    How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, ‘decapitation’ strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?
    continues……
    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/47696,opinion,barack-obama-from-anti-war-law-professor-to-warmonger-in-100-days
    WE NO LONGER HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

    Reply

  4. Susan says:

    I think it is a sickening idea. I certainly don’t like evil people like Khalilzad at all. He’s done far more ‘nation destroying’ than ‘nation building’.

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    Daud jan, yes, that’s exactly what is needed “the perception of Zal being effective and relatively incorruptible would directly address the two things that really *do* bother most Afghans”. Can’t have too much of that perception to forge good solid policy. Not trying to be too snarky here but, don’t you think have and have had about enough leadership by perception to last a lifetime. The percepiton of incorruptibility, as you put it, is of value only if one has an alternative agenda tht requires deception. Should incorruptibility be the rule, not the exception, and be the expectation not needing to be foreshadowed by “perception”?
    Please, I don’t know Kal form a hole in the wall. Never sat down for a drink with him, or shared an email. But to trust any politician to be beyond corruption, in the era of republican and democratic duplicity, about faces, and shading the truth, is a useless and naive exercise.

    Reply

  6. erichwwk says:

    Hi Linda: You likely know most of this:
    Khalilzad was a Sr. Rand Analyst from 1993-1998, in charge of the Pardee graduate school (as a result of his close friendship with Paul Wolfowitz). Contrary to what the movie “Wilson’s war” attempts to convey, it was Wolfowitz and Khalilzad who convinced Brzezinski to oppose the Russians in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles. Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars” ,Alex Abella’s “Soldiers of Reason- the Rand Corporation”, and a Nov. 22, 2001 WP article
    http://tiny.cc/p9Zp2)
    document the extent to which the two
    “held as almost a sacred principle that America should control the destiny of the world”… to act preemptively and unilaterally”.
    He set the stage for the war in Iraq, and continues to promote war for corporate gain.
    “After Bush’s victory last November, Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for
    the Defense Department. He also counseled Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In his current role, he answers directly to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.”
    Coll (and the WP Nov. 22, 2001 article) documents how Khalilzad wrote (in 1996- after their takeover of Kabul)
    “The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran. It is closer to the Saudi model”. … “Khalilzad was soon invited to join Unocal’s advisory board, along with Robert Oakley, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan”.
    Khalilzad met with the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and in Houston to further Unocal interests.
    Right Web asserts that it as Khalilzad that actually wrote the awful 1992 precursor to the 2000 PNAC document that Libby and Wolfowitz were in charge of. Abella asserts that also Khalilzad edited much of the RAND studies Andrew Marshall used to support his views at DOD.
    The guy was clearly a major figure in the Perle, Wolfowitz, Marshall, Chalabi , Cheney, Rumsfeld cabal. Why would anyone want to continue that dark chapter in U.S. history, especially Obama?
    tiny.cc/4DpWw
    is a decent short summary.

    Reply

  7. erichwwk says:

    Hi Linda: You likely know most of this:
    Khalilzad was a Sr. Rand Analyst from 1993-1998, in charge of the Pardee graduate school (as a result of his close friendship with Paul Wolfowitz). Contrary to what the movie “Wilson’s war” attempts to convey, it was Wolfowitz and Khalilzad who convinced Brzezinski to oppose the Russians in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles. Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars” ,Alex Abella’s “Soldiers of Reason- the Rand Corporation”, and a Nov. 22, 2001 WP article
    (http://tiny.cc/p9Zp2)
    document the extent to which the two
    “held as almost a sacred principle that America should control the destiny of the world”… to act preemptively and unilaterally”.
    He set the stage for the war in Iraq, and continues to promote war for corporate gain.
    “After Bush’s victory last November, Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for
    the Defense Department. He also counseled Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In his current role, he answers directly to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.”
    Coll (and the WP Nov. 22, 2001 article) documents how Khalilzad wrote (in 1996- after their takeover of Kabul)
    “The Taliban does not practice the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran. It is closer to the Saudi model”. … “Khalilzad was soon invited to join Unocal’s advisory board, along with Robert Oakley, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan”.
    Khalilzad met with the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and in Houston to further Unocal interests.
    Right Web asserts that it as Khalilzad that actually wrote the awful 1992 precursor to the 2000 PNAC document that Libby and Wolfowitz were in charge of. Abella asserts that also Khalilzad edited much of the RAND studies Andrew Marshall used to support his views at DOD.
    The guy was clearly a major figure in the Perle, Wolfowitz, Marshall, Chalabi , Cheney, Rumsfeld cabal. Why would anyone want to continue that dark chapter in U.S. history, especially Obama?
    http://tiny.cc/4DpWw
    is a decent short summary.

    Reply

  8. Linda says:

    Thanks, Erichwwk for your comments.
    The other thing I don’t understand about Zal is what he was advising in 2001-2003 before he named envoy and then Ambassador to Afghanistan.
    As I stated above, he was courting the Taliban for Unocal in late 1990s when along with Rumsfeld
    Wolfowitz, and others signed the PNAC letter urging invasion of Iraq.
    And already in 2/01, the Taliban destroyed those pricelss and wonderful statues. I may be naive and surely lack foreign policy expertise of many who post here, but that told me these folks were savage and uncivilized.
    He joined Bush Administration in 5/01 on Condi’s NSC team and was there until he was made special envoy to Afghanistan and then Ambassador and the Ambassador to Iraq and the to the UN.
    I just wonder why he didn’t stay in Afghanistan and advise that US do the same. We may never know as no one will tell. Perhaps Wilkerson can enlighten us.

    Reply

  9. daud jan says:

    The “CEO” moniker likely comes in part from Zal’s experience standing up the “Afghanistan Reconstruction Group” within the embassy back in late 2003. The idea was to bring executives in from the private sector to help shake up and invigorate how USG (primarily, but not exclusively, delivered via USAID) assistance was going to impact Afghanistan.
    I would have a tough time imagining Zal taking this position, unless he was actually given some pretty serious executive authority; simply being another (among hundreds) Karzai “advisor” is not what’s needed – the Afghan government can drown in the amount of good advice that has piled up in mountains of unread reports over the years. The question is, would Zal be the sort of person who could reign in, say, Gul Aga Shirzai, or Ahmad Wali Karzai? If not, then what, actually, would be his role? As it is now, if Karzai wants Zal’s advice, he can pick up the phone and call him…
    As for perception of Afghan “revulsion” at the imposition of a ferengi into the Palace – my gut feeling is that this is being seriously overstated. I haven’t seen any data, empirical or anecdotal, that would indicate mass rejection of Zal’s presence in the Palace. Indeed, the perception of Zal being effective and relatively incorruptible would directly address the two things that really *do* bother most Afghans. Furthermore, there’s no real reservoir of love or legitimacy for many of the former jihadi commanders who have more or less robbed the country blind (think of the sherpoor scandal, with our beloved once-and-future VP “Marshal” Fahim), despite their sterling credentials as “Afghans who stayed behind.”

    Reply

  10. erichwwk says:

    Thank you MBS for your post from Kabul. Please know that there are many Americans ashamed of what our country is doing in Afghanistan in our name–the effort to use force to control how and for whom hydrocarbon resources in Central Asia are being developed in disregard of the consequences to the people wishing to live there.
    For readers unfamiliar with the US role in Central Asia, much has been written re the role of Zalmay Khalizad in controlling its hydrocarbon resources for the U.S. corporate interests. As John McKay writes in yesterday’s FT
    (May 19, 2009) tiny.cc/fAVll
    in response to former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson’s Atlantic article “The Quiet Coup”
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200905/imf-advice
    “In Washington, the young, fresh King Obama finds his economic councils filled by representatives of the same interests who advised his predecessor so unwisely.”
    and
    “as Louis XVI learnt as the guillotine fell, the longer reform is delayed, the bloodier the revolution. And the more unsettled and chaotic would be the eventual outcome for us all.”
    We are essentially in the same boat as the Afghans. Let’s hope Obama wakes up, and finds his backbone? Or is Obama really representing the existing power elite, a Manchurian candidate? Or is his policies the best a decent man can do, in view of the deals that must be cut to get elected, or to counter the existing power/money structure?
    In regards to Ashraf Ghani, Steve Clemons once posted that he was being considered as IMF head, in response to the backlash against Paul Wolfowitz. He was even considered as UN head to replace Kofi Annan. Comments on TWN linked to Barnett R. Rubin Afghan constitutional draft that alleged Ghani has dual citizenship, U.S. as well as Afghanistan. You would be doing TWN readers a great service if you would talk more about him in the context of Central Asia such as why he declined to participate in Karzai’s government,how and why he obtained U.S. citizenship (is BRR’s assertion true?), his program for governance and communication, etc, etc.
    I find even skeptical support of Karzai in Afghanistan governance outrageous, along the line of a major AIG board member (2001-8, Holbrooke)and a CIA torture attorney (John Rizzo) in positions of power in the Obama administration. Hope to hear more from you and Steve on this.

    Reply

  11. erichwwk says:

    Thank you MBS for your post from Kabul. Please know that there are many Americans ashamed of what our country is doing in Afghanistan in our name–the effort to use force to control how and for whom hydrocarbon resources in Central Asia are being developed in disregard of the consequences to the people wishing to live there.
    For readers unfamiliar with the US role in Central Asia, much has been written re the role of Zalmay Khalizad in controlling its hydrocarbon resources for the U.S. corporate interests. As John McKay writes in today’s FT
    http://tiny.cc/fAVll
    in response to former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson’s Atlantic article “The Quiet Coup”
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200905/imf-advice
    “In Washington, the young, fresh King Obama finds his economic councils filled by representatives of the same interests who advised his predecessor so unwisely.”
    and
    “as Louis XVI learnt as the guillotine fell, the longer reform is delayed, the bloodier the revolution. And the more unsettled and chaotic would be the eventual outcome for us all.”
    We are essentially in the same boat as the Afghans. Let’s hope Obama wakes up, and finds his backbone? Or is Obama really representing the existing power elite, a Manchurian candidate? Or is his policies the best a decent man can do, in view of the deals that must be cut to get elected, or to counter the existing power/money structure?
    In regards to Ashraf Ghani, Steve Clemons once posted that he was being considered as IMF head, in response to the backlash against Paul Wolfowitz. He was even considered as UN head to replace Kofi Annan. Comments on TWN linked to Barnett R. Rubin Afghan constitutional draft that alleged Ghani has dual citizenship, U.S. as well as Afghanistan. You would be doing TWN readers a great service if you would talk more about him in the context of Central Asia such as why he declined to participate in Karzai’s government,how and why he obtained U.S. citizenship (is BRR’s assertion true?), his program for governance and communication, etc, etc.
    I find even skeptical support of Karzai in Afghanistan governance outrageous, along the line of a major AIG board member (2001-8, Holbrooke)and a CIA torture attorney (John Rizzo) in positions of power in the Obama administration. Hope to hear more from you and Steve on this.

    Reply

  12. Mohammad Basir Sulaimankhil- Kabul, Afghanistan says:

    the issue of the next Afghan president directly relate to USA, who ever is good puppet for USA, they will chose them again, presidential election in Afghanistan is just a drama. currently 45% of Afghan land are under the control of Taliban. only the building of some districts are with Afghan and US led-coalition forces, other area is with Taliban. so how could the people under the control of Taliban vote for presidential election, first of all they never got voting card. this is an obvious matter, but Afghan government and International Community are not mentioning it. why? up to now, all the survey which has been done by Afghan websites, in all the candidates Ashraf Ghani is the person who is getting highest vote, but we are saying that USA is once again supporting from Hamid Karzai who is unable to make a good government.

    Reply

  13. Mr.Murder says:

    The ability to merge future challenges should occur anywhere rebuilding from the ground up is needed. New Orleans, Kabhul, Baghdad should become model green cities.
    Surpass his crony toadyism with more broad a vision, one that lets these new places emerge as true leaders in the model of change.

    Reply

  14. Steve Clemons says:

    Joe M. – that was a reasoned and civil response. Many thanks. I don’t mind that you mind my cocktail cruising and express your concerns about that. Just don’t go too far in your judgment as you’d be incorrect. Offline, I could share a long list of people I have critiqued harshly on this blog who are in this circuit and whom I well know.
    all the best — and look forward to your future comments, I think. best, steve

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Unicalinization, or better yet, Wal-Martinization.
    Or we could really go for it, and erect a Home Despot in Kabul. Oops, forgot, already did that.

    Reply

  16. Ben Rosengart says:

    Substance aside — I had thought (hoped) that we had put the era
    of “CEO government” behind us. Ugh.

    Reply

  17. DonS says:

    I thought it’s already been tried in Iraq. Wasn’t that essentially what Bremer was doing. As I recall it worked out less than spendidly.

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    You may see it as an experiment. If it works, they may apply it to
    Iraq; and in a few years perhaps to Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen…

    Reply

  19. Marjane says:

    Why do we believe that just because a story runs in the New York
    Times it must be true? Khalilzad was not in Kabul last week, as
    Cooper reported. Khalilzad did not enter the presidential race, as
    scores of pundits and journalists predicted. Interesting that
    Cooper couldn’t reach Khalilzad for comment before running this
    story. I wonder how effort she put into speaking with him – a
    conversation could have ruined a great scoop after all. Let’s start
    taking the Khalilzad Wants to Rule Afghanistan (One Way or
    Another) articles with a grain of salt, people.

    Reply

  20. Zathras says:

    The idea described here is not completely without precedent. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus was for many years a powerful figure within the Environmental Protection Agency in this country, for example.
    I wonder, though, what problem Khalilzad would be tasked with solving in Afghanistan. Government corruption? Involvement of Afghan government officials in the drug trade? Fostering amity between the Pashtuns and other ethnic groups in the country? Frankly, the most obvious problem for a figure of Khalilzad’s stature to address would be the incapacity of the current Afghan President — and presumably the current Afghan President would not want him in the government if he thought that were Khalilzad’s mission.
    It may be that we are well past the point at which America gets blamed in Afghanistan for everything that goes wrong in that country, whether it is our fault or not. If we’re not there, having Khalilzad as the CEO, or grand vizier, or chancellor of the Afghan goverment would get us there in a hurry. There would have to be a pretty big payoff to the United States to make that worthwhile, and I’m not sure what that might be.

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    March 23, 1999
    BROWNBACK SILK ROAD STRATEGY ACT PASSES SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TODAY
    (updated by S. 2749 in 2006)
    WASHINGTON — The Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999 (S. 579) introduced by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, today passed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    “The U.S. needs to show more leadership and strength in the South Caucasus and Central Asia,” Brownback said. “Until now U.S. policy in the region has been seen only through the prism of our Russia policy; these countries are free and independent and should be treated as such. They are in a strategically important region of the world, standing against the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. We need to make the most of this opportunity to help these countries maintain their sovereignty and independence, as well as their pro-western policies.
    “The Silk Road Strategy Act sets an over-arching policy for the United States in the South Caucasus and Central Asia which involves the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Goals of the Silk Road Strategy Act include strengthening democratic government, resolving regional conflicts, promoting friendly relations with the United States, advancing market reforms, developing economic infrastructure between states in the region and supporting U.S. business interests and investments.
    —————-
    “advancing market reforms, developing economic infrastructure between states in the region and supporting U.S. business interests and investments”
    —————-
    Afghanistan is not on the Silk Road but it is essential to growing US business interests in the other ‘Stans just to the north, with their energy resources and their proximity to China and Russia.

    Reply

  22. Don Bacon says:

    Joe M.,
    Steve doesn’t have any problem with people who disagree with his positions. I do it frequently.
    Steve does have a problem with lifestyle criticisms and ad hominem attacks.
    As he should.
    In other words, I never expect Steve to write something I believe in.
    I do expect Steve to write something he believes in.
    On this, he never disappoints.
    And we take it from there.
    Makes perfect sense to me.
    That’s what makes this a top blog.
    So what’s so hard to understand?

    Reply

  23. Linda says:

    Both Karzai and Khalilzad were consultants to Unocal about the gas pipeline across Afghanistan in the late 1990s and actively negotiating with the Taliban.
    It was never quite clear when Khalilzad was writing articles about this in foreign policy journals and testifying before Congress in 1996-97 if he was writing as an academic foreign policy professional or as a business lobbyist.
    I’m not so sure, Steve, about three-footedness as wearing two hats at the same time.
    Many years ago on TWN, I recommended a book, “Crude Politics: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism” by Paul Sperry.
    The rest of this is several paragraphs from pages 7-8 of that book that also makes me wonder about Chuck Hagel and Clinton:
    “So Unocal, with help from the well-educated and urbane Khalilzad, played Pygmalion, flying the Taliban troglodytes to America in the hope that exposure to Western culture would soften their hard Islamic line. First stop: Houston, where Unocal’s Central Asia operations are based.”
    “In December 1997, company officials led by Vice President Marty F. Miller, the point man for the pipelines, welcomed eight bearded men in flowing robes to Unocal’s modern glass office building in Sugar Land, Texas, just west of Houston. The Taliban delegation–which included one-eyed foreign minister at the time, Mullah Mohammed Ghaus, and minister for mines and industry, ahmed Jan–was shuttled to NASA headquarters and the Houston tour zoo for tours. The Talibs were also helicoptered to Unocal oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. No visit to America, of course, would be complete without a trip to the mall, where the mullahs spent several hours shopping. At a Target store, they went on a spree, stocking up on toiletries, such as toothpaste, combs, and soap–no doubt to the delight of their hosts who paid for the excursion.”
    “Unocal spared no expense, putting the guests up at a five-star hotel in Houston during their four-day visit. One night featured a swanky dinner party at executive Miller’s mansion, where the mullahs beheld his swimming pool and Christmas tree–oddities in war-torn, Islamic Afghanistan.”
    “Khalilzad helped Unocal entertain the Afghan visitors during their Houston stay.”
    “The company then whisked them off to Omaha, Nebraska, where they spent two days at the University of Nebraska’s commuter campus. There, they hooked up with Thomas E. Gouttierre, director of the university’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, which had begun heavily promoting the trans-Afghan pipelines, after receiving a nearly $1 million grant from Unocal. Professor Gouttierre, who has testified in Congress in support of the pipelines, alongside his old pal Khalilzad, took his turn at feting the ruling Afghan mullahs. ‘It was part of an effort to show them what America looks like,” said Gouttierre, who has lived in Afghanistan. “Also to have them understand that people in America could get along even with women.'”
    “Alas, the American experience did not rub off. The last stop on the Taliban delegation’s tour was a high-level meeting in Washington that Unocal had arranged with President Clinton’s assistant secretary of state for South Asia and other diplomats. It was a golden chance for the Taliban leaders to repair their image–and ask for recognition, which they did. But when the officials brought up their strict Islamic laws treating women and ethnic and religious minorities as second-class citizens, they practically drew back bloody stumps.”
    So is this all be about globalization and securing Afghanistan so that gas pipelines can be built across it? Or is it about women’s rights in Afghanistan? And how do I or anyone figure out who these people are working for?
    And why didn’t all these brilliant experts in the late 1990s see the threat of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and do something about that before 9/11?

    Reply

  24. Joe M. says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    As you know, I am not a frequent commentator on your blog. I read it because you are interesting some times. And I post when I think you are applying a colonial mentality (for example, when you want the USA to force an agreement on the Palestinians, or situations like this with Khalilzad) on situations where the protesting parties are particularly weak. For example, It is very unlikely that i would protest your recommendations for US/European relations, even if i disagreed with them, because Europe has enough ability to defend its own views and policies. Yet, the Palestinians, Iraqis or Afghans, for example, collectively have a gun to their heads and are being forced to accept and agree to terms imposed on them. And I object to your views, admittedly in strong terms, when you support that process.
    In this particular case, you did say that the situation was “troubling”, so I did know you did not fully support it. But what right does the USA have to be in Afghanistan at all? To conquer their country, and put an American as their “CEO”… Even though you don’t fully support this move, you failed to criticize it from a perspective sympathetic to the people of Afghanistan (which is to say, from a perspective that rejects the entire American project there). I find that “troubling”.
    You are right, though, that I should not have used the term “we”. My point was that you seem to get a lot of criticism for your attendance on the party circuit, and I wanted to point out that your personal relationships may cloud your policy judgment. You do substantially mix your personal and policy life (which I assume you will admit), so it is hard to avoid that some criticisms are both personal and policy based. In some ways, it helps you get information (which is good), but in others it may cloud your judgment. Further, I was just guessing that your view on this had something to do with your relationship with Khalilzad, so I do apologize if that was too much of a stretch. Additionally, I had no right to imply that other people share that view.
    As for my status on your blog, I personally prefer to be an infrequent commentator here. I think you should formally block me if you don’t want me to take part in these discussions. I don’t make my points to harass or to be a problem, but to highlight issues i think are important. As I do find them important, I prefer to continue to make them. If you disagree, you can block my IP. Lucky for the world, there is no such thing as internet trespassing.

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    I was struck with this line from Kal’s bio: Dr. Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense and has been a Counselor to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
    Present at the founding! Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. — Kal was not only consorting with criminals but advancing them in government! He would be right at home (literally) in present-day Afghanistan.

    Reply

  26. jonst says:

    Steve,
    This just seems fraught with gratuitous complications that might come off as really insulting to the Afghan public. (sorta—on a much larger scale of course—like Joe M’s gratuitous, insulting,comments?)
    And why the CEO terminology? It is silly to me, and foreign, I believe, to most Afghans.
    One just wonders about where these ideas germinate from.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    Great idea! All American colonies should be run by American CEOs. Then there would no longer be any doubt as to who is in charge and whose agenda is being served.
    Having Karzai, a former Unocal consultant, serve as President should have made America’s agenda in Afghanistan obvious, but having a CEO makes an even more unambiguous statement. Go for it!

    Reply

  28. John Waring says:

    Show me the substance. Yes, Mr. Khalilzad is exceptionally capable. Now, what’s next?

    Reply

  29. caitlyna says:

    Steve, in principle how does a Khalilzad “CEO of Afghanistan”
    differ from the attempt by the Soviet Union to dominate
    Afghanistan in 1979 and the 1980’s? How about in appearance
    (other than it being by US rather than the USSR)? Having a
    former US ambassador installed as the de facto ruler of
    Afghanistan could appear to many as a similar move of military
    and politics to take over a region on the Russian borderland.
    Keep in mind that if they view a US-dominated threat to their
    borders, Russia is better situated to foment rebellion against the
    US than we were to organize the resistance to the Soviet Union
    in that state. More broadly, it would be a signal to other states
    in central Asia that the US is seeking long term access to central
    asia at the cost of sovereignty and independence of the states of
    the region. Looked at another way, could “CEO of Afghanistan”
    be viewed as similar to the imperial roman role of Proconsul? If
    so, do we really want to indicate to others that the Obama
    administration is following the Bush administration as an
    imperial American?

    Reply

  30. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s not clear that Khalizad, in this position, would be “unaccountable to any part of the elected Afghan government.” He would be appointed by Karzai, presumably under Karzai’s broad constitutional powers to appoint ministers, and would at least be accountable to him. Karzai was elected.
    Of course, the real problem is that no matter what sort of formal legitimacy Karzai’s position has, he would be seen by many as an American viceroy.

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  31. Steve Clemons says:

    also — joe m. — please desist from using the term “we” to describe any disdain you might have for my enjoyment and embrace of the DC cocktail party circuit. I get that you don’t like it — but as I’ve written before, I don’t care. These are part of my network of learning what is going on in Washington and trying to inculcate some at these gatherings with more sensible approaches to policy challenges. I receive an enormous number of emails every day and have a good sense of what folks like and don’t. And you aren’t in the majority here.
    But all that said — it’s my blog. Deal with it, or please depart.
    steve clemons

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  32. Steve Clemons says:

    Joe M — obviously, I disagree with you – -and I have qualms about what Khalilzad is considering. I don’t think democracy per se will work for the time being in Afghanistan — and this is an interesting alternative.
    But you sound frustrated here with my approach to public affairs. I despise Richard Cheney for what he did to the country. I find him one of the most dangerous and disruptive people in Washington. And I have gone after many on this blog with whom I have been at cocktail parties.
    But I really think that you should move on to a new blog if you are so rattled by my posts. Seriously.
    I have a hard time taking your constant harping very seriously either — and thus usually ignore it. You might consider doing the same with TWN.
    Have a great day.
    best, steve clemons

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  33. JamesL says:

    Appears that K & K were able to skip several of those long, messy, and unprofitable steps between pseudo democracy and military corporatocracy. Intrigued I should say! This deserves some kind of historical praise.

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  34. Joe M. says:

    This is a truly INSANE idea. Imagine the trust the average Afghan will have in their political system when it is directly run by an ex-American ambassador. In the end, providing an avenue to political empowerment through a centralized but independent governmental system is the only thing that could end the war. But if you want to prove the skepticism of any nationalist or anti-American force, this is the best way to do it.
    And Clemons, your unwillingness to criticize people you know or may work with is sickening. “troubling”?!?!?! Is that the best you can come up with? You criticize Cheney because you know he doesn’t give a shit about you. But it seems like you can’t criticize anyone you might be able to have a relationship with. That is why we hate that you go to all these parties and hobnob with the snobs (and war-criminals), because we can tell that you are moderating your criticism as a result, and making your politics personal. And that is very annoying because you are moral enough to make you interesting to read from time to time, but you pull to many punches to be taken seriously overall.
    Another prominent example is your lack of criticism for Holbrooke (though, there are many more examples)

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