His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
--He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother,
Presidents don't have power,
their purpose is to draw attention
away from it
--Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
I'm so glad we had this time together,
just to share a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just get started
and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say
--Carol Burnett Theme
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he would side with Pakistan in the event of war with the US in a surprising political twist that is likely to disconcert his western allies.
"If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan," Karzai said in a television interview. He put his hand on his heart and described Pakistan as a "brother" country.
The Guardian article quotes Karzai in a Geo television interview following his last visit with Ms. Clinton in which he said, "Afghans 'will never betray their brother'." The New York Times said Karzai's stance would "mystify his Western backers"; another called his statements "baffling".
However, Karzai's words are neither baffling nor mystifying. Brother as used by Karzai is not simply a phrase of regional fellowship -- Karzai is speaking of the Islamic Brotherhood, which will trump and outlast any gringo undertaking. He'll take the roads and money, though.
Blood is thicker than water. Partnerships are lovely in their salad days, but given a few thickets, most are ready to step off for greener pastures. Partners remain so as long as there are mutually beneficial interests (unless legalization enters into it, with treaties or marriage.) But brothers? Well, they are always there.
The palletized bundles of bills were nice, thanks, but we are getting down to the nitty gritty as Secretary of State tough grrrl Hillary Clinton presses Islamabad to ferret out the Haqqani network in the once-and-forever "lawless region of Waziristan".
But her bravado is for naught, as the Haqqanis are a design feature of a lawless region, and Karzai undercut her in the television interview less than a day after her departure:
"[Karzai] said Afghanistan owed Pakistan a great debt for sheltering millions of refugees over the past three decades, and stressed that his foreign policy would not be dictated by any outside power.
"'Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan,' he said. 'Afghanistan will never betray their brother.'"
So that's the long and short of it. One of the supreme ironies is the ironclad conviction of the neoconservatives that kitting them out with the trappings of American democracy will win them over to our side. Even Donald Rumsfeld said that America "had no dog in the Afghan fight" and should avoid nation-building after a punitive raid, he of messy democracy fame. He knew, that sly master of the abstruse koan (Vanity, Machismo and Greed Have Blinded Us.