US, Russia and Afghanistan – an infinite web of corruption

News from the US: terrorism in New York; eight killed. Trump campaign director indicted for several serious matters, mostly related to tax evasion. These things are related; and neither would be happening, perhaps, without the other.

There are different definitions of globalism, as this term encompasses more mass of meaning with the age we have entered. It is a word laced with wicked connotations, and yet it is a benign word… a word which simply delivers a truth; as simple as the Robert Frost poem telling us that no man is an island. We are all connected.

Also days ago, and almost every day in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber in the middle of a crowd, killing many. Quite a few of these bombers have found their way down from Uzbekistan and other regions of the former Soviet Union.

I would not blame Russia for this, except that they wanted and took Afghanistan and contributed to a chain reaction. In response, the United States supported (mostly) religious fundamentalists to fight Russians on the backs of Afghans. The fundamentalist fighters brought along a strict form of Islam, which did not entirely find a host with most, but did manage to get into the minds of war orphans raised up praying but not understanding. And it did alter some of Afghanistan’s Islamic practice; like a stray red sock in the wash.

That war in Afghanistan broke the Soviet Union; and as the fundamentalists became stronger through winning the war, the Wahhabist ideology also spread up into more post-Soviet regions. There, the stricter doctrine took hold and young red- and black-bearded fellows became radicalised.


At the same time, the left-over bits of a destroyed Russian economy were being consumed by the richest men. They bought Russia’s resources for pennies on the dollar. As in many other places on the “globe”, there came an even bigger rise in the concentrated wealth of mega-rich oligarchs. Vladimir Putin, worth an estimated 200,000 billion dollars, was one of these men.

These oligarchs, more powerful than ever, recognised a well-connected talent in Republican lobbyist Paul Manafort. It is only natural that they would want to hire him to help regain what Russia had lost, in that his global view must either align with theirs or he has no allegiance except with the highest bidder.

I often crack open a book to read a page or two before I sleep; and last night I opened Bill Moyers’ conversation with the late social scientist Joseph Campbell. The passage speaks of how the majority of a population is (I presume usually) not “right”. We sometimes call that part of the human group, the populist; and this, indeed, raises many questions of democracy.

Part of populist wrongdoing is “political-engineering”, a terms currently making waves across Twitter, Facebook, and Google, speaking on how Russian oligarchs had paid for advertisements on social media platforms to influence the 2016 US presidential election. 

Whilst social media platforms are deciding how to manage this phenomenon, Manafort had been indicted on 12 counts, including counts for conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, and filing false financial statements. These charges appear to be less about collusion with Russian “tampering” of the US election process and more about the manner in which Manafort handles the huge amounts of money he receives through his services.

It is curiosity provoking what work he exactly does for those millions of dollars, and how he can claim to spend over one million dollars alone on his wardrobe.

Manafort’s American aide, Richard Gates, is also indicted, and another Russian-national aide not arrested. Also, having already pled guilty and reportedly cooperating with the prosecution is a supposedly “volunteer” aide to the Trump campaign: Papadopoulos. One of Trump’s defenders and deflectors called Papadopoulos a mere “coffee boy”.

Interestingly enough, this coffee boy had also been linked to Israeli West Bank movers and shakers by Haaretz investigative reporting.


The populist sentiment might sometimes yearn for a simpler life, but this time has passed; and that life wasn’t necessarily great for all. It seems evident that there is much wrong to be resolved in the world, and that some of the individuals that have so much power are not necessarily “good” (just) people. Unfortunately, much of their efforts are focused on Arab regions, and it pays to stay alert to this as, unfortunately, any oversights have dire consequences for those regions.  

More Articles for You

Qatar 2022: between controversy and hypocrisy

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was a hugely significant occasion for football and the Middle East and North …

War in Ukraine: the Syrian divide

As Arab fighters engage hostilities in Ukraine, this article examines their roles and motivations in joining the conflict.

Lebanon Parliamentary Elections 2022: an overview

A low turnout, new representatives, and Hezbollah lose their parliamentary majority.

Qatar’s opportunity amidst a UK energy crisis

In 2021, Vladimir Putin announced Russia would increase gas supplies to Europe to mollify the turbulent energy market. This offered …

9/11, 20 years on: an alternative perspective

The events of September 11th, 2001 changed the world. Of the four planes hijacked that day, two caused the collapse …

Angie Assal: the Arab artist using 3D print

Angie Assal is a born and bred New Yorker. Her artwork embodies her multifaceted identity as a Lebanese-Arab-Druze with American …