Karzai's rival on what to do with Taliban and other problems in Afghanistan

Those of us who have lived in "Failed states" would find this fascinating.  George Packer from the New Yorker reports on an interview with former finance minister Ashraf Ghani who is running for presedential elections in August (this seems to be the year of wars and elections.  Israel, Sri lanka, India and now it seems Afghanistan).  Ghani's perception of Karzai's failings?

“When people suddenly come to office from exile, without any previous history, sycophancy becomes a very high component, because they’re dependent on relationships,” Ghani said when I asked what had gone wrong with Karzai. “No one has a constituency, and the person at the top is bombarded with praise—‘You’re the greatest thing since sliced cheese’—and human beings being human beings, if they hear they’re great, and only a few people are saying no, who are they going to believe? Shakespeare is the best guide to Afghanistan.”

So what about his views on the Taliban?

“I will approach them with compassion and try to bring them back home. Someone who has a problem with the government—do you counsel them, or try to shoot them?”

Seems to have had a good track record with administering finances.  At least according to the report.

Question is can someone with a cerebral approach to governance win the popular mandate?

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf from Liberia is cited by reporter as an example of success in a failed state.  Am going to look her up!  Am pretty desperate for some answers these days!

By: on 7 May 2009


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I saw Johnson-Sirleaf on the

I saw Johnson-Sirleaf on the Daily Show.  It was sort of odd- I can't recall ever having seen any Black African leader interviewed on American television.  In any case, cerebral or no, I don't trust a politician until I find out what their baggage is, though lately I have started feeling surprised in a good way by some of what some of them say.  But I still trust social democracy more than 'leaders' since I don't see very many social democratic leaders around.

It is true that to sustain

It is true that to sustain any sort of reform, participation from social movements or social democracy is the key.  However, when there is chaos and a complete breakdown of society, sometimes a good, strong, incorruptible leader making signifcant, positive changes in the interests of the people, from the top can provide impetus for quite dramatic change that would give people the security and confidence to regroup and reform and work towards change.  I think what is happening in the US is a small example of this...where you have an insightful leader who also gained support and influence mainly from a grassroots level, making change even more effective.

I watched an interview with the Liberian president with David Frost:


She seems to speak some sense.  Though its difficult to know if there is something there that would surface if one scratched a bit deeper.  Couldn't find any indept articles on what has been happening under her.  The west or local business community may be enamoured by her; but how the person on the street is affected or inspired by the change is another matter.

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