Monday, December 06, 2004

Unless (and Until the Time that) Karzai Decides to Oppose Uncle Sam, the First Elected President in Afghanistan's History Is Nothing But a Puppet

Hamid Karzai is the first elected president in the long history of Afghanistan but, needless to say, Françoise Chipaux does not show much respect for that as she feels the need to entitle Le Monde's in-depth portrait of the leader A president under supervision. The sub-head adds that now he "must prove that he is also a chieftain". Meaning, of course, that he must prove his independence vis-à-vis Uncle Sam. (For some strange reason, there is never a need to prove one's independence from, say, France — whether it is Paris's former African colonies, her European allies against the Iraq war, etc!)

Karzai's bodyguards are imposed by Washington, notes Chipaux ominously, and America's "heavy-duty and hardly diplomatic security apparatus exasperates the Kabul inhabitants more and more". Only later do we learn that this imposition (and the traffic jams) occurred for a reason, that reason being the assassination of two of the Afghan government's ministers. But never mind — Chipaux ignores that in order to make it sound like Karzai, in some ways, is an American puppet and "a prisoner in his palace".

More of the same follows on how "the president has never shown much interest for independent ideas" and concerning "his need to be loved and not to offend anybody". "The legitimacy that this election has given him will it give him the will or the courage to act at the risk of displeasing?"

Nice-sounding words, but hardly those that resound when the French are discussing, say, an African country in the French sphere of influence. Or, indeed, any leader opposing Paris

Speaking of respect and leaders, Jean-Philippe Rémy and Stephen Smith manage to misspell the name of Ivory Coast's president twice in the first three sentences (Laurent Gbgagbo and Laurent Gbgabo).

But, writes Fabienne Pompey, there is a president (or would-be president) whom the French, echoing a Star editorial, manage to show respect for. His name is Marwan Barghouti and the reason they feel this way towards this "peacemaker" is because a "respected intellectual"
in South Africa (Allister Sparks) has compared the Palestinian to Nelson Mandela

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