A Taste of Power

Power seems to be addictive. Power also seems to drive the powerful crazy. Power has been shown to blind the powerful to see the reality, has turned them deaf to hearing the plight of their nations, has stunned their senses and sensibilities to feel the needs of the people they rule over. These observations unfortunately are true even with the attempts of the powerful to sugarcoat their rule by fancy names such as democracies and republics, and kingdoms with or without constitutional checks. Examples of these are rampant. Take the family rule in Saudi Arabia, the personal rule of leaders in the so-called republics such as Libya or other governments ruled by so-called presidents who act and rule like kings and emperors. Look at governments also where in a republican regime, the son succeeds his father (Syria and North Korea) and then look at the latter where even a communist system has become hereditary. Study tens of cases where people have returned from polling stations with the feeling that their votes are inconsequential due to rigging and interference by the powerful, the wealthy, the military, the police and the clergy.

Then look at Iran where the clergy, for its own survival, has created a new system of government it calls republic and which system, under a constitution, is headed by a president who himself is enslaved by the super clergy called “The Supreme Leader” without whose agreement people cannot run for office. Is it democracy when one person at the top, yet outside the executive, serves as the super dictator with unlimited power?

Then look at Afghanistan. This country seems to be in perpetual misery ever since the invasion of its soil by a superpower neighbor almost thirty years ago. Ever since, many governments came to be in this rugged country. And each failed and failed drastically. The communists failed because of their subservience to the then Soviet Union and not their own nation and because they violated the religious values of the masses; the Mujahidin failed because of their personal thirst and claim for power and their infighting for greed and lust for power that resulted in civilian casualties of thousands upon thousands of the innocent citizens; a new reactionary government of the young clergy called Taleban failed because of its ignorance and lack of experience in governance and lack of understanding of needs of the society and human rights in the dawn of the 21st century.

The world led by the United States then decided to bestow the gift of a democratic system on Afghanistan with the hope that this would not only stop suffering of the nation but would also win the US an ally in one of the most strategically important regions of the world. Furthermore the US believed this would result in a defeat of terrorism. The government that the US and the world brought about in the country and helped with billions of dollars in aid and more than 60,000 foreign troops failed too, to achieve the goals set for it by the world at large. It failed because of a multitude of reasons among them insecurity, corruption, a snail pace development and little change in the lot of the people. The country remained under occupation while it is called independent. How can a country be independent when the survival of its government is tied to the existence of foreign armed forces on its soil?

Now, the head of that government is standing up for reelection among a group of other aspirants of power. Well aware of his shortcomings, well aware of lack of sufficient progress during his tenure, first as head of a transitional government and later as the elected president of the country, he has disparately embarked on schemes and plans in order to cling to power. Perhaps he is aware that historically in certain countries and certain situations, a system where the nobility colludes with the clergy has been able to sustain influence and maintain power. In Afghanistan there is no more the classical nobility. The nobility died out with the demise of the last king of Afghanistan. However, a new group, a new form of nobility because of its brute fire power, has filled the gap. This group consists of the warlords, who within and even outside the government were able to maintain their militia, their body guards and their weapons. These have brazenly used their power to rule in their respective areas of influence without fearing interference by the prevailing laws of the country or its police or justice system. And the clergy, though not well organized, is represented widely in the legislature. President Karzai has reportedly colluded with the new nobility, the warlords, promising them continued membership in his government notwithstanding the great body of evidence that exists against their conduct during the war and even to date. He has also gone along with the demands of the clergy. Examples of this can be seen in the support he has recently secured to receive from two infamous warlords, Dostum and Fahim. However, President Karzai should realize that the nation can now understand schemes of the politicians for achieving power and can distinguish selfish warlords and clergy from true servants of the country. Unholy alliances may ruin chances of victory for the politicians who rely on them for the purpose of winning at any cost.

Now if Ahmadi Nezhad can win reelection in a nation that is in the grip of a dictatorial system and a clergy that continues to hold on to power by imposing restrictions on personal liberties of the citizens, why would Karzai be fearful of losing? As a matter of fact President Karzai was one of the first world leaders who extended a heartfelt congratulation to Ahmadi Nezhad for his reelection and calling his victory a victory for the Iranian nation. Now he should be hopeful himself for winning elections in his own country.

Examples exist in our world where the most inefficient, the most selfish, and the most corrupt have won what they and even the world have called democratic elections. Under extremely adverse conditions that prevails in most of the third world countries, with rampant illiteracy, poverty, ignorance and unfamiliarity with what is referred to as democracy and democratic ways, there is little chance for just elections where the will of the nation could be reflected in their votes.

However, the real winners in any election are those who stand for election not because of their addiction to power or their love to achieve it, but for genuine determination to serve the country and win themselves a worthy place in human history as leaders who served their nations selflessly and effectively.