True to Form, Last Sunday the U.S. Puppet President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, Fled Kabul with Four Luxury Vehicles and a Helicopter Stuffed So Full of Cash That a Huge Pile of It Could Not Fit and Had to Be Left on the Tarmac

46 years earlier, U.S. client Nguyen Van Thieu tried to smuggle $73 million worth of gold bullion out of South Vietnam after its liberation by the communists

These two men symbolize the corruption and greed that lies at the core of the U.S. empire

The Russian embassy in Kabul reported on Monday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan with four vehicles and a helicopter full of cash as the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The former World Bank academic — who holds a doctorate from New York City’s Columbia University — didn’t say where he was going, but Al Jazeera reported that he had flown to Uzbekistan and it was later confirmed that he went to the United Arab Emirates.

Nikita Ishchenko, a Russian embassy spokesman in Kabul stated that as far as the “collapse of the (outgoing) regime, it is most eloquently characterized by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan.”

A military helicopter carrying Afghan President Ashraf Ghani prepares to land near the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer.
A military helicopter carrying Afghan President Ashraf Ghani prepares to land near the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan August 2, 2021. [Source: geo.tv]

Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” Ishchenko was quoted as saying.

Pictured: Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, August 15, 2021
Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, August 15, 2021. [Source: dailymail.co.uk]

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov earlier expressed hope that Ghani and other fleeing officials would not take all the money from the state budget—which would be difficult to recoup.

Saad Mohseni, who owns one of Afghanistan’s popular television stations said that Ghani would forever “be known as the Benedict Arnold of Afghanistan. People will be spitting on his grave for another 100 years.”[1]

Nguyen Van Thieu and Smuggled Gold

Ghani’s ignominious departure resembles that of another deposed U.S. client, Nguyen Van Thieu, who according to the New York Times, tried to smuggle $73 million worth of gold bullions out of South Vietnam in April 1975 after Vietnam had been liberated by the communist forces.

Thieu ended up living out his days in a wealthy suburb of Boston and skiing in the pristine mountains of Vermont.

In 1963, he was one of the Young Turks responsible for the assassination of South Vietnamese Premier Ngo Dinh Diem.

Subsequently, he emerged as the head of a ruling military tribunal and then after a few rigged elections, president of South Vietnam.

nguyen van thieu
General Nguyen Van Thieu [Source: alphahistory.com]

According to his obituary in the New York Times, Thieu ruled the Republic during its bloodiest years and proved himself a brilliant strategist, not on the battlefield, but in surviving palace intrigues and feuds.

His power-broker, General Dang Van Quang, controlled the South Vietnamese Navy, which harbored an elaborate drug smuggling organization.

General Dang Van Quang
General Dang Van Quang [Source: nguyentin.tripod.com]

On the July 15, 1971 edition of NBC Nightly News, the network’s Saigon correspondent Phil Brady quoted extremely reliable sources as saying that General Quang, Thieu’s chief intelligence adviser, was “the biggest [drug] pusher” in South Vietnam.[2]

Ashraf Ghani and the Beirut Club

As CAM previously reported, in the 1970s, Ghani had been part of a group of mostly Pashtuns known as the Beirut club, which had been sent to study at the American University of Beirut after, in a visit to Kabul, Henry Kissinger noticed that Afghan leader Mohammed Daoud Khan was surrounded by Soviet advisers.

From that point on, members of the Beirut club–which included neoconservative Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2004-2005–were groomed for power, and brought into the American orbit.

A collage of a person

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Beirut Club: From left, Ashraf Ghani, deposed president of Afghanistan; Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, chief Taliban negotiator at recent peace talks; and Zalmay Khalilzad, neoconservative war booster and the Americans’ peace envoy during their student days at the American University, Beirut. [Source: nytimes.com]

From 2002-2004, Ghani served as Foreign Minister of the Hamid Karzai government where he oversaw the flow of billions of dollars of foreign assistance.

A huge amount of the money was stolen or used to pay bribes to corrupt government officials.

A person sitting in a chair

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Khalilullah Frozi [Source: thefrontierpost.com]

Later as President from 2014-2021, Ghani allied with Khalilullah Frozi, who was supposed to be serving a 15-year prison sentence for his role in defrauding Kabul Bank of nearly $1 billion of depositors’ money.[3]

Afghanistan in this period ranked among the 20 countries “having the highest perceived level of corruption” as laid down by the Corruption Perception Index.

Diagram, engineering drawing

Description automatically generated
[Source: outlookafghanistan.net]

Symbols of Greed

U.S. government leaders claim over and over again that they are intervening in foreign countries to spread good governance and democracy though end up empowering leaders of the caliber of Ghani and Thieu who steal and cheat their fellow countrymen and grow wealthy off their misery.

The reason for this outcome is not that hard to discern if we consider the underlying interests driving U.S. foreign policy.

Both Afghanistan and South Vietnam were viewed by the real drivers of U.S. foreign policy—the Kissingers, Rumsfield’s, Kagan’s and Brzezinski’s—as chess pieces, that the U.S. strove to control for its own purposes.

In Vietnam, the goal was to project U.S. power in the Asia Pacific and prevent the emergence of a strong socialist nation; and in Afghanistan, it was to project power in the Middle East and Central Asia and tap into the country’s unexploited mineral wealth.

Given these agendas, the only local-based leaders who would ally with the U.S. were unscrupulous opportunists willing to sell-out their own countrymen and women.

The U.S. furthermore created opportunities for corruption through the massive interjection of foreign aid on an otherwise hollow economic base.

Ashraf Ghani and Nguyen Van Thieu were thus both made in America.

They serve as symbols of an empire underlain by violence and greed whose global legitimacy has suffered another major blow.


  1. Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Nossiter, “’He’s a Coward’: Ghani’s Exit Infuriates His Countrymen,” The New York Times, August 17, 2021, A8.

  2. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, 2nd ed. (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991), 229.

  3. Ghani referred to his Vice-President Rashid Dostum meanwhile as a “known killer.”


CovertAction Magazine is made possible by subscriptionsorders and donations from readers like you.

Blow the Whistle on U.S. Imperialism

 

Click the whistle and donate

 

When you donate to CovertAction Magazine, you are supporting investigative journalism. Your contributions go directly to supporting the development, production, editing, and dissemination of the Magazine.

CovertAction Magazine does not receive corporate or government sponsorship. Yet, we hold a steadfast commitment to providing compensation for writers, editorial and technical support. Your support helps facilitate this compensation as well as increase the caliber of this work.

Please make a donation by clicking on the donate logo above and enter the amount and your credit or debit card information.

CovertAction Magazine, CovertAction Quarterly and CovertAction Information Bulletin are projects of Covert Action Publications, Inc., a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York.

We sincerely thank you for your support.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s). Covert Action Publications, Inc. (CAP), including its Board of Directors (BD), Editorial Board (EB), Advisory Board (AB), staff, volunteers and its projects (including CovertAction Magazine) are not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. This article also does not necessarily represent the views the BD, the EB, the AB, staff, volunteers, or any members of its projects.

Differing viewpoints: CAM publishes articles with differing viewpoints in an effort to nurture vibrant debate and thoughtful critical analysis. Feel free to comment on the articles in the comment section and/or send your letters to the Editors, which we will publish in the Letters column.

Copyrighted Material: This web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As a not-for-profit charitable organization incorporated in the State of New York, we are making such material available in an effort to advance the understanding of humanity’s problems and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. You can read more about ‘fair use’ and US Copyright Law at the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

Republishing: CovertAction Magazine (CAM) grants permission to cross-post CAM articles on not-for-profit community internet sites as long as the source is acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original CovertAction Magazine article. Also, kindly let us know at info@CovertActionMagazine.com. For publication of CAM articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: info@CovertActionMagazine.com.

By using this site, you agree to these terms above.


About the Author

8 COMMENTS

  1. According to one poll almost 50 perecent of Americans do not know who Justin Trudeau is. Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister of Canada. So probably less than 1 % of Americans knew who the President of Afghanistan was.

  2. Reports from the Russian embassy in Kabul say that the Afgan President left the country with several large bags of money. How can one be 100 % sure that this report is true. Unless concrete proof is provided it would be better to say that the President alledgedly left the country with several bags of money. Innocent until proven guilty.

  3. Hey Jeremy, just letting you know you need to correct the URL on the link on “Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,”.

  4. The purpose of the invasion of Afghanistan was never to bring good governance to the Afghans. It was to remove from power Al Qaeda’s ally in its attack on the United States. Bad as the government which the U.S. put into power, it was certainly preferable to the Taliban of 1996-2001. But even if it wasn’t, that’s hardly the point. A good argument could also be made that the Communist governments which the U.S. and U.K. enabled Stalin to replace the Nazis with in Eastern Europe were no better than their German predecessors. That’s also not the point. Just as the point of facilitating the Communist occupation of Eastern Europe with massive financial and military aid was to win the war against the Nazis and not to bring better government there, so the point of facilitating republican government in Afghanistan was to win the war against Al Qaeda, not to bring better government to Afghanistan. It would’ve been nice if we did, just as it would’ve been nice if Stalin had established parliamentary democracies in the Warsaw Pact countries. But that’s not what we needed, and, unfortunately for the Eastern Europeans and the Afghanis, its not what they got.

Leave a Reply