15 FEBRUARY 2010


That bond must have been established when the current U.N. Secretary General was amongst the first to hurriedly rubber-stamp the Afghan president's fraudulent election in August. That was before he had to also hurriedly backtrack amongst an international outcry and an open dispute between his two senior envoys on the ground: one embarrassing the other and both embarrassing the U.N. and its Secretary General.

When they met in London, they were ready to, as an official communique stated, "discuss the fight against corruption -- and good governance."

By then, Peter Galbraith was already gone, consumed by his own Norwegian vendetta, awaiting the outcome of his Kurdish Liberation movement on the hills of Irbil and oil fields of Kirkuk.

Not to worry, however. Mr. Ban could not hold such a gathering unprepared. He had already brought along the Meeter/Greeter, his new gift to Afghanistan, who could overwhelm any claimant of corruption, let alone good governance. It was not clear whether son-in-law Chatterjee was there too; but he may not be far behind. For practical reasons, Ahmed Wali, the enterprising Karzai, former Maryland restaurateur, and current impresario of Kandahar, could not join these crucial talks. He was too busy collecting tolls on Helmand bridges from anyone carrying national natural resources like coca or Lapis lazuli. Regrettably too, Riza could not show up, despite his special links to London, and his valued advice on anything to do with governance. But he could still put his shoulder to the wheel, as he personally would say. After all, AFPAK could be influenced, however partially by AMTRAK -- you know, the train that connects Princeton with Washington, D.C. Also, Mr. Ban could have fortified his delegation with another Italian stalwart, who is his official anti-corruption frontman, Senor Maria Costa; the fact that the man had been himself investigated on corruption charges need not present an obstacle.

It is not certain that the two leaders got into details, like holding a substantive meeting in Kabul between Kim Won-Soo and a number of Afghan notables like Vice President Fahim, whose official airplane ferries highly valuable stuff throughout the country without discrimination between Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, or Pashtun.

At least both leaders could claim an influence on the lady we admired so much, who was persuaded to announce to the world, in London, that bribery in the amount of $500 million, will be the new strategy by the Land of Lincoln in the land of Kublai Khan. She may have not been aware of the saying that you could never buy an Afghan tribesman, but you can only rent him for a while. But for how long? Our cherished leader, meaning Hillary Rodham Clinton, must have gotten too involved in Foreign policy issues to overlook how giving away millions to buy off cut throats in Khost and Kandahar would sound in Detroit, Michigan, or her original home state of Illinois, her adopted home state of Arkansas, or current home state of New York. A brilliant politician like her would have allowed someone else to come out with such an awkward announcement. But she was possibly carried away in this atmosphere of failing politicians trying to cope with two failed states at one time. For it was not only Afghanistan that is demanding attention -- and lots of funds; but Yemen too. And if Hamid Karzai thinks he can siphon those $500 million away, he's got Abdallah Ali Saleh to contend with. The sole ruler of Yemen for 31 years who had squeezed the Saudis, Saddam, and Washington, would want everyone in London and beyond to know that when it comes to successfully claiming a failed state, he is the head Honcho. And if Karzai was overwhelmed by $500 million, the former Colonel accepts nothing less than $40 BILLION. In a documented presentation, ponderous leaders were warned of depleted oil revenues (no explanation in whose bank accounts), wasted water resources (no indication diverted to whom), persistent poverty (no mention of a growing family business elite), over 40% of youth unemployment (alienated by whom?), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Plus, of course, Al Qaeda (whom he had kept usefully available), Southern separatists, and Houthis (supposedly Shias supported by Iran). He did not ask for a U.N. Special Envoy, nor suggest an anti-corruption conference on good governance. He knows with whom to get directly in touch and where most of the skeletons are buried. Ban Ki-moon, Chatterjee, or even Lady Chatterley's lover may come in handy, but not now.

As to our Mr. Ban, he continued his pursuit of anti-corruption and good governance with a trip to Cyprus together with that clean whistle from Down Under, Alex Downer, whose conflict of interest bespoke of a black joke in the tragically divided island. As the Australian Bee Gees would say: he started a joke, which sent the whole world crying.