Bags of Money Make the World Go Round

Afghan President Hamid Karzai AP Photo

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
AP Photo

It was recently revealed that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been receiving bags of money from the Iranian government. This is in addition to bags of money the Afghan government receives from the U.S. and other governments. The White House disputed the notion that it gives Karzai "bags of money," but allowed that some U.S. aid to Afghanistan is paid in cash.

As Karzai phrased it, he gets bags of money because his office lacks funds, and he is willing to take bags of cash from any benevolent supporter of Afghan's rehabilitation or influence peddler.

According to a New York Times report, bags of money are "part of a secret, steady stream of Iranian cash intended to buy the loyalty of Mr. Daudzai (Karzai's chief of staff) and promote Iran's interests in the presidential palace." And, the Karzai administration can play both sides off each other--using the Iranians and U.S. and NATO funders to fill its coffers while holding alleged "peace" talks with the Taliban. As sage Mark Twain once said, "We have the best government that money can buy."

Karzai said that Afghanistan will continue to ask for cash assistance from Iran. "We've also asked for things in return for this relationship, so it's a relationship between neighbors, and it will go on," Karzai said on Oct. 25.

Bags of money are the weapon of choice to garner power and favors, especially when a gun or missile is inappropriate or exchanging bags of cash for weaponry isn't feasible.

In Afghanistan, passing bags of money around, including to the Taliban, is business as usual. In "Obama's War," author Bob Woodward wrote that "contractors for development projects pay the Taliban for protection and use of the roads, so American and coalition dollars help finance the Taliban."

Karzai, of course, isn't the only politician asking for bags of cash to support his mission. Nor is Afghanistan unique in its culture of payoffs or legal distribution of funds to impact elections. TheDemocrats and Republicans combined are raising more than $4 billion for the midterm elections according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's about an $8 million bag of money per congressional seat in play. Some candidates have their own bags of money to spend in hopes of punching a ticket to Washington, DC.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Election 2010

California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman has spent more than $140 million from her personal fortune to take Arnold Schwarzenegger's job. Based on current polling, its appears that she will be another example of Will Rogers' take on elections: "Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated."

President Obama has been pummeling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS and other organizations in speeches, maintaining that they refuse to disclose their sources of funding for Republican candidates. It's safe to say that bags of money financing GOP candidates are from donors who are sympathetic to the removal of liberal-leaning politicians from office.

It would be naive to think that the agendas and votes of politicians aren't swayed by contributed bags of money from so-called "special interests," even if they are of a common political persuasion.

Karl Rove
AP

On "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer asked former senior adviser to President George W. Bush and Fox News contributor

Karl Rove what wealthy Texas home builder Bob Perry might expect in return for his $7 million contribution made recently to American Crossroads, which Rove co-founded.

Rove responded, "Absolutely nothing," adding that Perry has never asked him for a "darned thing," and is a "true believer" concerned about the country's future. Perry made news in 2004 as the chief back of 2004 anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Schieffer asked Rove if there were a poll around the country, how many people would agree that when someone gives $7 million to anything they would expect something in return. "You know, I don't care what the poll might say," Rove said. "I just know the man, and the man is a decent, deeply religious, patriotic American and God bless him for doing so."

You'll just have to take Rove's word that a big bag of money contributed to American Crossroads has no more specific strings attached other than a hope to wipe out the Democrats in the upcoming election and bring a more conservative Republican agenda in Washington.

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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