It wasn’t so much his words. It was his melody. Leering, sneering Hamid Karzai, president of an Afghanistan that would never have achieved even a dream of decent government if it weren’t for the United States, spitting out his contempt for America and the Americans.

His message went something like, “If the Afghan authorities choose to release some prisoners, that is not and should not be a concern of the United States.”

He was referring to the release of prisoners who had killed Americans on the battlefield, Americans who had come to end the rule of those who consider it a crime to educate women and who use the stadium for public executions. Even Adolf Hitler occasionally found walls behind which to do that kind of thing.

It’s hard (for some people, not for me specifically) to blame the residents of Normandy for openly wishing the Americans, British, Canadians and allies had found another place to do their liberating. There were grateful Dutch and Norwegians and others whose homelands needed liberation, almost always militarily, thanking the Americans. Tearful Danes openly forgave an attempted Allied air raid on Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen that went catastrophically wrong, killing 86 young Danish girls at a nearby school.

Hamid Karzai saves journalists and scholars years of study. Listening to his rant for 10 seconds explains why Afghanistan is at the bottom of the world in almost all key categories – and would be lower still if Americans had not, in October 2001, swarmed in and quickly accomplished what the British Empire and the Soviet Union had given up as impossible; namely, regime change.

This brings on something almost never openly discussed, the joy of the “clean defector.” Nazi SS boss Heinrich Himmler was far from a “clean defector” when, very late in World War II, he sat down with a Romanian rabbi to discuss the release of Jewish survivors in Nazi concentration camps. Himmler was trying to avoid the end of a rope, which is precisely why Hamid Karzai is playing his “pro-Taliban” card today in Afghanistan. It’s not worth the life of one single American or anti-Taliban Afghan to rescue the hide of a rattlesnake.

Those who’ve surfaced at convenient times with pro-Nazi, pro-Communist or favor-currying views of any kind are likewise not clean defectors.

I’m a clean defector. Join me, if you qualify, and feel the joy.

To qualify, you have to admit you once felt the sweetest sound in the world – right up there with “I love you” and “Peace on Earth” – was “nation-building.” The idea of moving in with the American flag and teaching the worst nations on earth to be like the best used to possess me body-and-soul. I trembled with spiritual over-thrill at the notion of dictatorships where children beg in the middle of the street and pigs walk in the gutter would, after a few billion dollars we’d never miss, have freely and fairly elected parliaments, basketball leagues and free meals bursting with nutrition for the young, and pig-pens for the pigs. … Stop me! Like a reformed alcoholic I live in fear of falling back. I draw energy today just imagining myself debating that earlier me and destroying him early in round one.

Such illusions feed on the mistaken – in fact, diseased – notion that the only reason the bad countries don’t resemble the good countries is simply that the bad ones never happened to think of free elections, attractive business districts and well-kept neighborhoods. There’s a reason, pal, why the bad are bad and good are good, and the notion that you’re going to go in and rescue the bad with the scrapbook and game plan of the good is like trying to break in a tribe of cannibals on a new breakfast food reinforced with riboflavin.

Insufficient attention has been paid to Israel, whose religion-propelled attitude is one of help-thy-neighbor, but not sloppy help-thy-neighbor. Once it became clear that all their neighbors hated them, the Israelis looked for friends far beyond their frontiers. Israel never had money to squander on foreign aid so it merely offered potential allies all over the world teams of specialists who would show how to succeed where they were failing. The payoff has been huge. Israel’s agriculturalists have won friends teaching and spreading drip irrigation in the Caribbean and good medical care in Africa.

A hateful neighbor of Israel once flag-signaled the Israeli border guards that a gift was being motorcycle-delivered to the Israeli checkpoint. The package turned out to be a commodity not uncommon wherever bulls congregate.

The next day an identical package was delivered from the Israelis to the border post of the “donating” country. The border commander grunted at the Israeli lack of originality, but decided to open the package anyhow.

To his amazement and delight it contained a block of fresh, golden Israeli dairy butter along with a note that read, “Dear Neighbors: The ceremony you have initiated is altogether fitting and proper.

“Let us continue to send each other the best from our lands.”

Media wishing to interview Barry Farber, please contact [email protected].

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