- Special to The BRAD BLOG by David Swanson in Afghanistan...
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Ramazan Bashardost finished third in 2009's openly fraudulent presidential election. When the first-place finisher, Hamid Karzai, failed to beg, borrow, or steal 50% plus one he was required to participate in a runoff. When the second-place finisher bowed out, Bashardost was entitled, under the Afghan Constitution, to be in that runoff. It never happened.
Bashardost is currently a Member of Parliament here, having previously served as Minister of Planning. Bashardost was educated in France and speaks fairly good English, as well as a number of Afghan languages. He's an opponent of war, a harsh critic of President Karzai, and someone on the inside who tries to represent the suffering people of this beat-down, kicked around country.
I interviewed Dr. Bashardost for a couple of hours in his office on April 4th, a day of some significance to US advocates of nonviolence. Bashardost is an admirer of Gandhi's model for social change. In the clip embedded below, I asked Bashardost what he would say if President Barack Obama were in the room.
Bashardost's message to Obama is that the ongoing war in Afghanistan is losing U.S. taxpayer dollars, losing U.S. soldier lives, and losing America's values.
He says that U.S. tax dollars are spent to pay U.S. soldiers to guard corrupt Afghan officials, war lords, Islamists, and criminals who rape children in fancy palaces and buy $100,000 cars. The Taliban, he says, kill U.S. soldiers even without ill-will toward the United States, because the soldiers are between them and these officials. This war, Bashardost explains, began in 1994, and American soldiers have now gotten into the middle of it.
So, who benefits? Bashardost suggests that U.S. lobbyists and President Karzai may benefit from this war, but that the people of Afghanistan do not. But, then, I suspect President Obama knew that already...