Here’s some entertainment for you—NPR’s take on Hamid Karzai:
“Karzai once personified a new, US-backed, free Afghanistan”
While somewhat comical, the level of skew here is unnerving. Perhaps the journalists were taken by Karzai’s charm, but this is light glorification of someone who was a corrupt puppet.
“He [Karzai] says a democratic Afghanistan was a possible dream that even came true for a while.”
NPR did not spend any time discussing how he made that dream possible. From what became The Afghanistan Papers:
“President Hamid Karzai won reelection after cronies stuffed thousands of ballot boxes. He later admitted the CIA had delivered bags of cash to his office for years, calling it ‘nothing unusual.’”
What’s interesting is that despite everything, Karzai states that his opinion that the country is more stable than it was and “that the US bombed the wrong people so many times he refuses to believe it was a mistake.”
Overall, the brief interview portrays the typical misleading story of what happened in Afghanistan: the country had a chance at democracy with its “elected” leaders, then the Taliban rose to power again, and everything fell apart. There are a few exceptions, sure—they mentioned the American killing of civilians, the problem with the Afghan government’s troops as well, and Afghanistan’s frozen assets abroad, but it’s not enough.
Why? Because it overlooks how the “democratic” government that was in place was not democratic. It overlooks the corruption, the Afghan government’s heavy involvement in the opium trade.
Without that—without mention of the heavily corrupted US-backed Afghan government—the false narrative of the US brand of democracy giving hope to Afghanistan remains.