The US government is stepping up security in Afghanistan to stop smuggling, after WikiLeaks cables embarrassingly showed that millions of dollars were leaving the country by nefarious means.
According to a secret cable released by WikiLeaks, Ahmed Zia Massoud, a former Afghan vice president, visited the United Arab Emirates last year carrying $52 million in cash. Mr. Massoud has denied the report. Beyond the flow of money to Dubai, millions of dollars more are believed to be smuggled through border crossings, and American officials fear at least some of the money is being funneled to Afghan insurgents taking shelter in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
You’d think right-wingers in the US would be happy that someone is exposing their tax dollars being wasted, no? But that’s not even the big story….
The big story is that the New York Times has gone through the cables to expose this:
To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks, which describe politicking and cajoling at the highest levels. It is not surprising that the United States helps American companies doing business abroad, given that each sale is worth thousands of jobs and that their foreign competitors do the same. But like the other WikiLeaks cables, these offer a remarkably detailed look at what had previously been only glimpsed — in this case, the sales war between American diplomats and their European counterparts.
The documents also suggest that demands for bribes, or at least payment to suspicious intermediaries who offer to serve as “agents,” still take place. Boeing says it is committed to avoiding any such corrupt practices.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a longtime ally and recipient of billions of dollars in United States aid, told the ambassador in 2004 that “even though the latest Airbus offer was better than Boeing’s he intended to make a ‘political’ decision to have Royal Jordanian buy Boeing aircraft,” a State Department cable said, although the United States still had to help Boeing secure the deal.
It looks like the deals are quite cosy. Billion of dollars in ‘aid’ from the US government goes to dictators, who then use the money to buy expensive planes from US companies, with complete support and ‘perks’ from the US state department and senior diplomats.
That keeps the dictators in business and human rights abuses swept under the carpet, and keeps American jobs subsidised by the US taxpayer.
It also makes big corporations like Boeing and Airbus lots of money and keeps the diplomatic wheels greased.
The best defense of WikiLeaks so far comes from the Spanish paper El Pais itself, which has published this brilliant editorial.
A key paragraph:
Political classes on both sides of the Atlantic convey a simple message that is tailored to their advantage: trust us, don’t try to reveal our secrets; in exchange, we offer you security.
But just how much security do they really offer in exchange for this moral blackmail? Little or none, since we face the sad paradox that this is the same political elite that was incapable of properly supervising the international financial system, whose implosion triggered the biggest crisis since 1929, ruining entire countries and condemning millions of workers to unemployment and poverty. These are the same people responsible for the deteriorating quality of life of their populations, the uncertain future of the euro, the lack of a viable European project and the global governance crisis that has gripped the world in recent years, and which elites in Washington and Brussels are not oblivious to. I doubt that keeping embassy secrets under wraps is any kind of guarantee of better diplomacy or that such an approach offers us better answers to the problems we face.
I bet most of 2011 is going to be dominated by WikiLeaks related controversies.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Middle East,United States