Mullen: Kandahar Victory Depends on Wiping Out Corruption

Despite US Pressure, Little Indication Karzai Intends to Target Corruption

In a high profile meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen warned that the military victory in Kandahar would be impossible unless the Karzai government wiped out corruption.

If we can’t do that there, then we will not be able to success, that’s just a face,” Mullen insisted. Corruption in Kandahar has been rampant since the US occupation began.

The center of the corruption, according to many analysts, is Karzai’s own half brother Wali. The Pentagon has already conceded that Wali would be a “challenge” for the NATO occupation of the city, noting that without his help such an invasion would lack in key intelligence sources.

But while marching tens of thousands of troops into the city, even having given the Taliban four months of advanced notice, is one thing, holding it is quite another. This is where Wali Karzai’s history of corruption and back office dealings will become a huge liability.

Though the US has been issuing growing amounts of pressure on the Karzai government to “target corruption” since his dubious reelection last year, there seems to be little indication that the Afghan president is so inclined in general, and the chances he will turn on his own brother are slim at best.

Thus if Admiral Mullen’s statement is sincere and officials truly believe the occupation to be impossible without the collosal changes, it seems foolhearty at best for NATO to be invading the city to set itself up for an inevitable disappointment.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.