Jan 5, 2004
Afghanistan’s loya jirga, or Grand Council, after maneuvers and deals, settled on a new charter to set up an Afghan government.
This council was supposed to be democratically setting up a democratic government for the country. What a joke. Its delegates were chosen by the tribal warlords consulting with the U.S. occupation authorities. From the beginning, however, its deliberations were nothing more than a power struggle between Hamid Karzai’s U.S.-installed government and the warlords based on several ethnic groups, all of whom want to ensure control for themselves. Karzai and the U.S. want a strong presidency, which they have written the charter so as to control; the others want a stronger parliament, which will work more in their favor.
What’s most important for either side is not what would be more democratic, but what will favor their interests.
What they call “democracy” can be seen in the process that put the draft charter together. After 10 committees worked on pieces of the charter, a final group of 8 people – representatives of Karzai’s government – put the pieces together. In the process, they completely re-wrote sections, which not only reversed the original meaning, but reflected Karzai’s interests.
Differences were then worked out – on paper, at least – not through open discussion and debate, but through back-room deals in which U.S. representatives played a big part. The final result did not reflect the interests of the majority of the population, but those of these politicians and warlords.
This “democracy” and this “charter” will simply allow all the military power struggles to continue unimpeded, with a little window-dressing to hide what’s going on.
All that’s fine for the United States ruling class, who couldn’t care less if all these factions continue to battle each other and tear the country apart for years to come. It won’t impede U.S. involvement around the globe and might even teach a lesson or two to a few upstarts.
The Bush administration wants several things to come out of this loya jirga as soon as possible, however. They want something in Afghanistan that looks like the end of the war, a constitution and an election. And they want it all to be done before November, so Bush can use it for his own reelection. He wants to be able to say to the U.S. population, “look, my policy is working – it brought democracy to Afghanistan.”
The “democracy” they’re creating will make Florida look like a model for fair elections and Guantanamo look like a model of democratic rights.