Detoxifying the Leadership Style of Hamid Karzai

2014 Annual Virtual Conference on Moral Leadership
Regent University
Virginia Beach, VA

Copyright © Stephen H. Dawson 2014

Publish Date:
15 November 2014

Portable Document Format (PDF)


Hamid Karzai, the first freely elected president of Afghanistan, has been internationally accused of planning with the Taliban. Karzai, denying this charge, leaves office without accomplishing the mandate of those who elected him: establish a democratic Afghanistan government. A 2005 banking scandal in Kabul slowed critically needed foreign investments to the new democracy. The absence of improved public health and public education necessitate initiating a review of the Karzai presidency, along with the impact on the developing democratic nation, to determine the effectiveness of his leadership style on both the Afghan culture and the surrounding region. This writing is a summary presentation of the Afghan culture and the toxic effect of the Karzai leadership style, contributing to the infectious marginalization epidemic for both the Afghan culture and surrounding region. The recommended treatment to detoxify this marginalization epidemic is the forgiveness process. Causes for the marginalization epidemic are pretested, along with recommendations to accomplish the forgiveness process.


US catches Afghan govt 'red handed' in plotting with Pakistani Taliban: Report (2014) could not come at a worse time. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is leaving office, the first freely elected president of Afghanistan. The discovery Afghanistan leadership has returned to working with those who caused years of horror and loss; the Taliban. Karzai has spent from December 2001 to September 2014 trying to lead building a free Afghanistan. He has now been found to be working covertly to advance the agenda of their once national enemy. The evidence, while controversial, is sufficient to initiate a review of the Karzai presidency, along with the impact on the developing democratic nation, to determine the effectiveness of his leadership style for both the Afghan culture and the surrounding region.


Afghan Geography and Culture

Trying to analyze a socio-political situation, without both the author and the reader immersing in the local history, culture, and customs can lead to misunderstandings, both of driving forces in the region and of behaviors. It is important to begin with considering the culture and region of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is land locked, mountainous, and can only support a short list of vegetation. Large parts of the country are quite arid. There are natural resources, but not the infrastructure required to mine, extract, and transport them. Shari'a law has oppressed public education. The average Afghan public health condition is poor, as Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world. The Afghan people are comprised of about a dozen different ethnic groups across thirty-four provinces, each with a slightly different agenda of how to establish a new country since Karzai was installed in December 2001. This tribal society does not necessarily see themselves as belonging to the same nation. Opium accounts for approximately eleven percent of the Afghanistan national economy. Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world. Many in the nation are poorly educated and unable to earn a living. This combination is a target rich environment for the criminal element to come and exploit the Afghan people. Afghanistan borders Pakistan, where Taliban flow freely between the countries' borders.

Afghan Government

The Taliban are of the Pushtun tribe and therefore will only recognize a Pushtun as their leader. Initial recruits in the Karzai army were mercenaries from Tajikistan, but more recently, with steady United States defense funding, a new broader army was recruited, trained, and salaried. Desertion rates are exceedingly high, because tribal people are loyal to their tribal leaders and tribal war lords, not the Karzai government. Pakistan welcomed the result of Afghan presidential election (2004, Nov 03) finds the Pakistani government in 2004 desired the Afghanistan presidential election process, seeing the Afghanistan election process as acceptable to internally recognized election standards. Hyde (2011) provides a perspective on contemporary election monitoring. This monitoring has become an international norm. The possibility of legitimizing electoral autocracies is always a concern. The Afghanistan voters, some who walked for days to be able to cast their ballot, dipped their thumbs in indelible ink after casting their ballot, to avoid voter fraud. The election was hailed by many as a big step for freedom in the region from Taliban oppression.

De Lauri (2013) wonders about the accessibility of justice and human rights in Afghanistan. The ruling government was tasked by the people to establish internationally recognized laws, along with recognizing human rights, to replace the Shari'a law known for decades. The findings of De Lauri show subjectivity of both law and rights in the various regions of Afghanistan conclude neither are well established within the country as a whole. Kem (2014) discuses establishing the rule of law in Afghanistan:

To establish these societal boundaries during governmental transitions, the focus should be on those specific institutions that provide a measure of trust and confidence in the rule of law. These institutions include the legislature to enact laws, a police system to enforce laws, a functioning corrections (sic) system, and an independent judiciary to interpret the laws and to provide redress of grievances.

Kem seems to agree with De Lauri. The lack of desire by the Shari'a follower for change, compared to the desire to establish Western and internationally recognized values, institutions, and laws, along with recognizing human rights, causes a conflict. The newly elected leader of this country was to resolve this problem. The evidence of plotting with Pakistani Taliban brings doubt Karzai ever tried to accomplish what he was elected to do. Eikenberry (2013) believes any counterinsurgency doctrine, particularly in Afghanistan, has limits: "...protect civilian populations, eliminate insurgent leaders and infrastructure, and help establish a legitimate and accountable host-nation government able to deliver essential human services. In sum, the essential task is deciding how to do less with less." Reuters (2013, 17 June) reports Senator Corker stopped funding money to Afghanistan until financial accountability could occur, due to growing evidence of financial misuse. Biddle (2013) provides recommendations to keep the successes of the Afghanistan war, as the international forces work to help the Afghanistan people realize democracy in peace. Biddle believes a settlement must be negotiated with the Taliban, to have peace in Afghanistan. This settlement is nothing more than a compromise by both the Taliban and those desiring democracy in Afghanistan. There is little belief the Taliban will accept such a settlement. Many wonder why Karzai is trying to negotiate such a deal. It now appears the settlement talks were nothing more than a cover story to buy time for the Taliban to strengthen in Pakistan for reestablishing in Afghanistan.

Northouse (2013) discusses leadership styles. The Authentic Leadership style is seen as an emerging practice and discipline. Essentially, this leadership style is to say what the leader will do and do it. A concept of connecting leadership practices is to execute perhaps Servant Leadership, or Transformational Leadership, or some other form of leadership as part of fulfilling the statements of what will be done. There is not necessarily a hierarchy in play here, where one leadership form can be subservient to the other form or forms, but they do work in concert together. The pipe organ cannot play without the air going through the pipes. The plan part of successful leadership must have an execution part, as well. Clear communication is a constant within successful leadership styles. Neither deception from the beginning, nor changing the leadership plan without first communicating to followers, are part of successful leadership, nor of an academically recognized leadership style. Karzai says (the) United States wants to manipulate him (2009) is considered by many to be the first public statement against the newly United States President and the turning point in Afghanistan relations with the United States. The 2009 Afghanistan election was not as pleasant of an experience as the 2004 Afghanistan election. There was concern Karzai was unable to unite the various cultures within Afghanistan under the 2004 freely elected government. Karzai has either deceived people since day one, or decided to take another path to build Afghanistan and not publicly communicated this change. Is it not realistic to try to negotiate peace with anyone who is focused on violence, such as terrorist. It is neither realistic to insufficiently alter the income of a war lord. This lack of realism is based upon a perceived trade inequality, on the part of the party giving up their agenda, wealth, and social status. Regardless of what happened or why it happened, Karzai is now viewed by many as being an ally of global terrorism, by this charge of him planning with the Pakistani Taliban. Not only has the effort to free the people of Afghanistan, by establishing a democracy, taken a considerable setback, the resources established within the country of Afghanistan are now at the disposal of a well-organized terrorist group.

Deception results in a justifiable feeling of betrayal. Neither deception nor betrayal are attributes associated with healthy leadership styles. French, Case, and Gosling (2009) find, "betrayal may have its roots at the same deep level of the psyche as friendship and they may, therefore, be equally fundamental developmentally." The thought is only a friend can betray a person. A leader can be successful without friendship with the follower, but the lack of friendship does diminish the potential of leadership success. This is not to say direct relationship is necessary to have friendship. Franklin Roosevelt established a distant friendship with many people, by providing indirect care to them during the depression, through the various programs directed at improving personal well-being. His funeral procession was attended by many who, therefore, viewed Roosevelt as a friend. Deception brings a preceding layer to the leader-follower relationship. This preceding layer is called intentional harm. A leader cannot always share all of the reasoning as to why they are asking their followers to act in a certain manner. The ethical leader is always responsible to communicate organizational goals and objectives, before asking anyone to join the leader-follower relationship. Acting contrary to stated organizational goals and objectives is deceptive behavior. French, et al. cite Hillman, in the Garden of Eden story, finding betrayal is a component of human nature. Hillman believes betrayal is inevitable and humanity must be ready to enact forgiveness. Krantz (2006) discuses leadership is a constant adaption to betrayal. He considers Yasir Arafat and his effort to establish a Palestinian State. The irony is Arafat was poisoned, through betrayal by his staff. Krantz defines the concept of 'virtuous betrayal' such as experienced by Christ from Judas. Krantz tries to reason there are necessary times for betrayal. Sievers, Long, and Lawrence (2006) consider power and politics, citing Krantz:

...betrayal is an essential element of leadership and organizational change. Using a systems (sic) psychodynamic perspective to explore the betrayal that often accompanies significant change, several factors of this question are considered, including: how the exercise of leadership and the capacity for betrayal are intertwined; the dynamic challenges to both leader and follower of having to contain the experience - and potentiality of betrayal in the collaborative bond; and about the challenges posed to the enterprise by the experience of betrayal.

Sievers, et al. seem to believe being powerful in the political arena must sometimes include betraying someone. This position is not consistent with ethical leadership. This position does not define when it is permissible to betray someone, causing subjectivity to the leader-follower relationship. Subjectivity causes ambiguity, which suffers follower ability to do what their leadership asks them to do. This combination, ultimately, causes the Holy Bible to have subjective conditions placed upon Exodus 20:16. Sievers, et al. also address the world culture, by starting with the human mind. They state the human mind is only a partial component, but a necessary starting point. They conclude no global culture can be understood without first understanding the human mind. Is counterintelligence, during times of war, betrayal or a means to win a war? Does Hitler justify eliminating the Jewish people, by arguing he is betraying the German people if he does not? Does Japan justify their existence by betraying America in false diplomatic discussions, to buy time for their attack upon Pearl Harbor? Does a stock broker justifiably deceive during the hours of the September 2008 financial crash, to buy and sell at the best price? Logic may justify betrayal, but the receiver of betrayment does not seem to ever want to be betrayed. Betrayment is not a fair and balanced way to live life, let alone lead anyone.

Afghan Economy

de Soto (2014, Oct 10) recommends teaching new skills to the Afghan people. Empowering them to earn money, beyond growing, harvesting, and selling opium, is a clearly identified need to help the Afghan people have the means to live an improved economic quality of life. This empowering will also help the Afghanistan national economy achieve economic growth. The United States and United Kingdom leaving Afghanistan appears to have caused Karzai to negotiate some form of a peaceful agreement with people from the Pushtun tribe, to stop the civil war among the different fractions. The argument can be made Karzai was elected to bring peace and stability and this is what he is trying to do. The absence of stable institutions can cause people to achieve everything through negotiation and deals, or through war. A commonly held argument is if he or his successor does not settle with the Taliban, the country will disintegrate even further than what it has so far. Neither negotiation nor planning with the Taliban are what the people of Afghanistan voted to have accomplished. They voted for a democracy and democracy is not on the Taliban agenda. Glaze (2007, October) describes part of the goals and objectives to help the Afghanistan economy migrate from opium production to other forms of income. "Working with the UK and the Afghan government, the United States developed its own strategy to counter the opium problem in Afghanistan, which has the following five pillars: alternative livelihoods, elimination and eradication, interdiction, law enforcement and justice reform, and public information." What these goals and objectives do not contain is a satisfactory plan to accomplish helpful change, for the Afghan people to find alternate livelihoods.



Toxicity is the quality, relative degree, or specific degree of being toxic or poisonous. A toxic source can be either chemical, biological, or physical. Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. Factors influencing chemical toxicity are primarily considered by dosage amount, route of exposure, and frequency of exposure. It is appropriate to consider all three forms of toxic sources when considering a toxic leadership style. It is appropriate because people are constantly interacting with all three toxic sources, particularly when considering the Karzai leadership style. Chemically toxic leadership is most prominently seen through the pervasive opium crops. Biologically toxic leadership includes not establishing improved public health, improved public education, and a continued low sense of emotional well-being. Physically toxic leadership includes promoting the presence and continued threat of violence, the loss of economic livelihood due to oppression from autocracy, and civil war in the Afghan culture.

Toxic Leadership

The toxic leadership style is characterized as a leader who abuses their followers, causing the organization to be in a worse position than before the leader arrived. Lipman-Blumen (2005) states, "Toxic leaders are those individuals who by dint of their destructive behaviors and dysfunctional personal qualities generate a serious and enduring poisonous effect on the individuals, families, organizations, communities, and even entire societies they lead." Pelletier (2009) finds of toxic leaders, "Common-reported toxic behaviors were public ridicule, blaming others for the leaders' mistake, mocking employees, and threating an employee's security." Graham-Harrison (2013, 05 March) reports the Kabul Bank fraud verdicts raise fears about official indifference to corruption in Afghanistan. Boone (2011) reports the Afghanistan Finance Minister admits doubt the missing Kabul Banks funds will ever be recovered. The Karzai administration did not achieve sufficient economic stability in the Afghanistan banking system. This insatiability further discourages future foreign investor participation to the welfare of Afghanistan, through any form of an emerging market. This result is failure of both monitoring and controlling the system of government the Afghan people voted to implement.


An epidemic is the rapid spread of infectious disease to many individuals. The cause of an infectious disease can come from a toxin. An example of this scenario is not only people but a financial debt. A toxic debt is where a debt, along with any accumulated interest, has a low chance of being repaid, imposing harm onto the financial position of the debt holder. The former Afghanistan President has left the Afghan people not only in a bad combination of circumstances, but also the surrounding region. There is little belief making agreements with the Taliban and expecting any foreign investment to come from a source not seeking to gain from opium will ever cause a democratic form of government to arrive. This combination of circumstances has left a sort of vacuum effect upon the region. Something will come in to fill this void. This filling will most likely be an increase in the production and distribution of opium. The countries who do not desire trade in opium will act to thwart opium production. The only economic source for the Afghan people is now essentially eliminated. Afghanistan is left in a worse position than before 2001, with a reorganized and resupplied Taliban to rule the land. These are not the attributes of a successful leadership style bringing any form of help to followers. The leadership style of Hamid Karzai could one day return, in the form of Karzai again returning to a role as head of the Afghan people. The recent end of the Karzai presidency does not end the spread of this toxic leadership infection.


Definition of Forgiveness

A simple definition of forgivingness can be stated as the one offended no longer holds the offense, because they have released it from their life. This release can also be extended to the offender apologizing to the person offended, along with seeking to resolve any harm inflicted by the offender. Forgiveness is not restitution.

Pingleton (1989) discusses the intersection of Theology and the psychological viewpoint. Pingleton describes forgiveness is the process to find healing of emotional and relational pain. Pingleton cites Jesus on the Cross as the forgiveness process for the sin of humanity, for those who desire this forgiveness. A systematic Theological study of forgiveness is larger than this writing. However, it is clear the origin of forgiveness is with God. Pingleton (p. 30) cites Shontz and Rosenak, "no formal psychotherapeutic schools of thought today provide direct insight to the process of forgiveness." The hypothesis of Pingleton is the reason no school of thought is found is psychology and Theology are considered by the psychological process to be separate. Pingleton states the psyche does ward off further wounding, particularly when wounded by a narcissistic personality type. This statement affirms narcissism can deeply wound the person offended. Pingleton goes on to say the payback mindset is prevalent in a wounded person who has not found forgiveness. This payback can be applied not only to a person, but sometimes a culture, a concept, or even humanity. Pingleton provides a high level application of the psychotherapeutic process involving forgiveness. The Theological process for forgiveness is quite different from the psychotherapeutic process.

Vitz and Mango (1997, p. 4) discuss psychodynamics and religious aspects of the forgiveness process. They outline five stages for memory healing in the forgiveness process. They cite the strategy Linn and Lin: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Particularly troubling is the depression stage, as the person offended somehow finds blame in their own actions. They wonder if they could have done something to avoid the hurt they experienced. Interestingly, acceptance is after depression. Vitz and Mango caution about false forgiveness. This is a distortion in the offended persons motives, whether conscious or unconscious. The person forgiving must be in clear touch with their motives, to enter the acceptance stage. They find the narcissistic personalty can easily experience false forgiveness, due to a mindset of superiority.

LaMothe (2010, p. 13) finds humanity needs an interpretive guide to stir up life, especially when in the midst of a crisis. This person is Jesus Christ, as He did many times with the Jewish leadership. LaMothe cites, "the love, compassion, and forgiveness" of God is the life ministry of Jesus. These attributes are constantly necessary to find personal wholeness. LaMothe (p. 15) writes the forgiveness offered by Jesus, "was an invitation to a future relation, which is not defined by the victim-victimizer dynamic." LaMothe cites Tutu (1999) No Future without Forgiveness as an example of the power of forgiveness for a culture.

Werkman (2002) describes the forgives found by a culture, in Eastern Bosnia. Thousands were killed in 1995, along with thousands who are still missing, in a failure by the United Nations to provide military assistance to the people of Srebrenica. Werkman (p. 5) writes, "if forgivingness could be organized, it wouldn't be forgiveness." The culture of Werkman is stronger today, because they as a people decided to seek forgiveness, along with the political structure of today compared to their condition in 1995. Freed (2011) finds an artist suffers in their creative approach when bound by a lack of forgiveness in their life.

Attributes of Forgivingness

Forgiveness can be measured in both quantity and quality. Quantity, in initially forgiving the offense, moving to telling the offender they are forgiven, along with public declaration of the forgiveness. Quality, in the sincerity of the forgiveness professed, along with any form of action by the person offended.

Kim and Caza (2002) study organizational and leadership virtues and the role of forgiveness. They find an organization must also forgive, not only the people comprising the organization. "It (organizational forgiveness) is on the right side of the continuum that strength-building, life-giving, virtuous attributes such as compassion, forgiveness, courage, hope, humility, and integrity are manifest." Grant (2008) states, "When leaders realize they have imperfections they are able to accept others with imperfections and create environments of forgiveness." Madsen, Gygi, Hammond, and Plowman (2009) propose a framework for forgiveness as a workplace intervention. They see this framework applied through a role for human resource development. They cite Folger, "Forgiveness should be an important concern of both organizational theorists and practicing managers because it is a way for individuals to repair damaged workplace relationships and overcome debilitating thoughts and emotions resulting from interpersonal injury." Löwenheim (2009) considers why an entire state would seek forgiveness, when they have harmed another state. Löwenheim finds varying degrees of significance and meaningfulness are encountered during this type of forgiveness process. Löwenheim concludes, "the extent to which a state perceives its image as threatened by its wrongful act" is the leading reason for seeking forgiveness from those harmed. This action does not necessarily mean there is a complete forgiveness experience, but could lead to the greater potential of false forgiveness. Regardless, a state seeking forgiveness is a powerful act to help find cultural healing. Baskin and Enright (2004) consider the benefit of forcing the forgiveness process to occur, through intervention. The intervention process is grouped into three categories: decision-based, process-based group, and process-based individual interventions. The conclusion is forgivingness is suitable for effective usage in clinical and other settings. Stone (2002) considers forgiveness training in the workplace.

True forgiveness supports the retention of valued employees, allows for greater creativity and innovation, leads to increased profitability, and generates greater flexibility in adapting to changing market conditions. For those who want to create a more nurturing and compassionate workplace where people feel a sense of purpose and meaning it is essential to make gratitude and forgiveness a regular practice.

Kurzynski (1998) considers the virtue of forgiveness, as a human resource management strategy. Kurzynski finds forgiveness is largely a misunderstood term. Kurzynski finds, "forgiveness offers a way for the manager to deal with the negative and potentially destructive feelings that may result after a conflict between manager and employee in a way that can empower both." Kurzynski presents some surprising research:

In a 1981 research study report on values and the American manager, forgiveness was ranked fifteenth out of eighteen in importance by the managers surveyed (Posner and Schmidt, 1982). The researchers used Rokeach's list of instrumental values as their benchmark. An updated study conducted in 1991 indicates little to no change in the ranking of this value according to the authors of the study (Posner and Schmidt, 1992).

Kurzynski concludes with the position forgiveness is valuable to a business:

As a virtue, forgiveness enables one to deal more effectively with the negative feelings associated with relational moral dilemmas such as disloyalty, betrayal in a relationship or of confidences, being lied to or cheated out of a fair exchange, or some other act of intentional or even unintentional wrongdoing.

Sieff (1999) reviews a book, discussing vengeance and forgiveness after genocide and mass violence. The book is a study of South Africa's past, beginning in April 1996. The book is an echo of the Tutu book. Forgivingness is applicable for any offense, whether small or large, in any organization or culture.

Examples of Forgiveness and Leadership

Caldwell and Dixon (2010) find love, forgiveness, and trust are critical values of the modern leader. They cite Pfeffer, "Organizational research in recent years has acknowledged the importance of a leadership philosophy that treats people as valued assets rather than simply as labor costs to be reduced or eliminated." Their evaluation of the constructs of love, forgiveness, and trust suggests ten commonalities shared by these three values:

  1. Measured on a continuum of commitment.
  2. Virtue-based and reflecting the desire to create added value or positive benefit for the other party.
  3. Based upon a social contract obligation with the valued other.
  4. Covenantal in scope, rising to the level of ethical stewardship.
  5. Demonstrated by the relinquishment of personal power or control.
  6. Reality-based and accepting of others' faults.
  7. Founded on treating others as ends rather than as means.
  8. Interpreted through one's mediating lens.
  9. Requires making oneself vulnerable and willing to take a risk.
  10. Based upon an optimistic hope for the future but ultimately dependent upon the other party's reciprocal behavior.

Genesis 17:20 has God stating He will bless Ishmael, but the covenant is found to be with God and Isaac in v. 21. Genesis 21:8-14 has Ishmael being sent away with his mother, Hagar. Genesis 25:9 has Isaac and Ishmael at the funeral of Abraham, to bury Abraham. It is reasonable to conclude Ishmael went through a forgiveness process, to be sent away and still desire to attend the funeral of his father, alongside his brother Issac.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma, spent fifteen years in house arrest as a political prisoner. Buncombe (2009, 05 July) chronicles the event. Driscoll and McKee (2007) describe the power of storytelling, to keep a culture moving forward. They recognize Kyi as using the spiritual engagement of her culture during her captivity, to find her freedom. They find, "Few dare to externalize their internal values, let alone discuss concepts like joy, compassion, humility, forgiveness, and vulnerability." They identify authentic, life changing stories have components such as, "They embrace compassion, forgiveness, humility, vulnerability, tolerance, and respect." Kyi has walked through some form of forgiveness, to be able to stand before her captors without demonstrating evidence she is now offended by their actions.

Parks (1995) shares the many speeches she heard from Dr. Martin Luther King, citing Luke 23:24, helped her find the strength to exhibit a courageous act of defiance on 01 December 1955. She could not enter this process as a leader to overcome racial discrimination without understanding the importance of the forgiveness process. Parks knew forgiveness would open the door to end racial discrimination in America.

A music student of this author was held captive for almost four years during World War II, in a Poland concentration camp. This elderly, frail, and dignified lady was no longer able to stand upright, due to the starvation and physical beatings she endured in the camp. One day, the courage was mustered by this author to ask how she endured such an experience. Her only words: "I have forgiven them, so must you." Her wholeness is realized in the forgivingness she found of those who cause her harm, along with instructing her music teacher to focus not on the events she went through in the camp, but the forgiveness possible only by receiving from God.

A comparison of justice, mercy, and forgiveness can be seen in a parable about the father of murdered son. Justice is the murderer be punished with equal action, through the death penalty. Mercy is the murderer not receiving the death penalty, but life imprisonment. Forgiveness is when the father of the murdered son takes the murderer into his home, feeding the murderer, has the murderer sleep in the bed of his son, even wear the clothing of his son, to teach the murderer why it is wrong to murder. God has the same experience when His children are forgiven and live in His life, through the restoration of Christ. A leader can punish their followers or find a way to go through forgiveness. The day may come when the leader must seek forgiveness from the follower. This is a double edged sword. It is more than ever trying to excuse poor behavior. It is positioning the leader-follower relationship to not experience the need for forgiveness, by each of them following God and not an individual agenda.

Leadership and Forgiveness

There are countless examples of leaders, both well-known and unknown, who have gained the strength to lead by completing the forgivingness process. It is unrealistic to expect leadership to be successful without completing the forgivingness process. The matter is more than how much success a leader will realize, having caused offense to their follower, or when success can be realized. A well-operating machine is one which will produce the most benefit during usage. A follower who has been offended by their leader, due to the leadership style executed, is not able to be as productive. A leader desiring success in their leadership role is positioned for success when they complete the forgiveness process, restoring wholeness to the follower, enabling the follower to output maximum productivity in their work. A leader no longer in their leadership role still must complete the forgiveness process, if they ever hope to return to a leadership role.


The Authentic Leadership style would have been quite appropriate for Karzai to follow. There is often the need to modify almost any leadership plan, as circumstances justify the appropriateness of change. However, if a plan change is necessary, clearly communicating such a change to followers is only fair to the followers.

Karzai could have engaged more people across different market sectors, who demonstrated a particular desired form of success through their respective leadership style, to find economic investors for this newly forming democratic nation. Investment bankers are always seeking viable emerging markets. The combination of a mineral rich country, along with prevalent security, combined with the international desire to remove terrorism from the land of Afghanistan, should have drawn qualified leaders to the country. These leaders would then build the organizations and networks necessary to achieve economic development and build the Afghanistan economy. Economic viability is an attribute of a democratic society, as the economy has freedom of choice built into the construct. The lack of qualified leaders coming to Afghanistan most likely meant they did not see a way to succeed, given the members of the Karzai administration, the struggle to sufficiently unite the dozen different ethnic groups across thirty-four provinces, and the understanding there is really no other realized industry in Afghanistan but opium. Establishing economic investment, to build the necessary infrastructure for developing any other market or industry in Afghanistan, should have been a higher priority for Karzai. Today, there are hardly any economic resources established, outside the cultivation of opiates. There is no workable infrastructure investment in most of Afghanistan, especially outside Kabul.

The realization of opium being such a huge economic component should have been dealt with more effectively, through foreign capital along with stringent investor requirements. The incoming investment could have been better directed to building infrastructure for mining precious resources. This effort certainly could have been seen as occupiers taking spoils of war, but the desire to remove the criminal element from the Afghanistan opium situation would have been well-served. The profit from selling some of the precious resources could have been invested in the Afghanistan infrastructure, equipping the Afghan people to succeed in the global economy. Development of a regional hub for transportation of imported goods would have built long-term growth. Establishing a transportation hub would have required building a national railway system, providing much needed assistance to public health and public education efforts. The railway industry is well-proven to be a viable and profitable segment of any country finding economic growth. This investment strategy also could have paved the way for real estate development, which is precious in this region due to trade interest with neighboring countries. Successful continued trade is dependent upon a strong leadership presence, contingent upon a presence of strong leadership arriving in the first place. Members of the Afghan culture may have been present to serve as leaders, but few were identified as both capable and willing to lead under rigid requirements and uncertain risks. The development of real estate would have incentivized qualified leaders to desire living in Afghanistan. Granted, security was a concern. However, all ventures have risks. Living among over one-hundred thousand military personnel, along with almost the same amount of contract security personnel, is a pretty good provision of security. This is a better security assurance than major cities throughout the world. The opportunities were there for accountability and growth. These opportunities were not vigorously pursued and subsequently never fully realized. This lack of pursuing allowed Karzai to have insufficient accountability. The desire to maintain vigorous opium trade ultimately won, and the cascade to join with terrorism ensued.

Finally, the thought of negotiating peace with a group bound to violence, the Taliban, is not a realistic goal. The absence of conflict does not necessarily mean there is peace. It could mean forces are rearming and reorganizing. A public declaration of peace, by all combatants, along with outward evidence of working together to build a collective culture, is a good indication peace has been found. The scenario of ending conflict to achieve peace, without the goal of ending war, is not a realistic expectation. This scenario is called a truce, not armistice. Karzai failed to lead by keeping unrealistic options available for accomplishing his leadership style. Since Karzai did not have to be in the role of leader, but wanted to be in this role, he is responsible for the leadership failure of negotiating the illusion of peace through only the ending of conflict. Karzai has failed the people who elected him, reduced, if not eliminated, the potential of foreign investments, and strengthened the networks producing opium in Afghanistan, without necessarily increasing the financial gain by Afghanistan for the production of this opium. All of these results contribute to the lesser form of authority now held by the current Afghanistan President.

Ending the epidemic infection from the toxic leadership style of Hamid Karzai cannot occur through any other option than the forgiveness process. This is the starting point to solving the spreading problem of marginalization over the Afghan people. The exclusion of Afghanistan from the global community will not bring any beneficial or honorable results. This epidemic can only be treated through the forgiveness process. There are three members involved in the Afghanistan forgiveness process.

Hamid Karzai

Karzai does well to seek forgiveness from the Afghan people and global community. He was elected by the Afghan people to bring a democratic form of government to Afghanistan. He did not accomplish this task. He did not have to serve in the role as president, but chose to serve in this role. He could have stopped at any point and sought his replacement. He did not. Karzai clearly demonstrates toxic leadership, by inflicting deadly harm on the Afghan people by enabling Shari'a law to continue, contrary to the election to build a democratic form of government, and furthering Taliban terrorism to inflict hurt upon the Afghan people and the world, by trying to negotiate a continued existence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is possible Karzai also has a narcissistic leadership, but more research is necessary to determine with certainty.

Afghan People

The Afghan people do well to seek forgiveness from Hamid Karzai and the global community. The Afghan people did not hold their president accountable. There is much more to establishing a democracy than only voting for this form of government to be established. They had substantial help from the International Coalition against terrorism available to stabilize their country and the surrounding region. They had the ear of the global community listening to know how they could help Afghanistan. What did not occur is the voice of the Afghan people to speak and ask for further help with their president. The people of Afghanistan could have also required more feedback from their leader, during his administration. This additional feedback would have been risky, as the various cultures spread over the different provinces could have executed violence upon the Afghan people to reduce this feedback process. It is unlikely the elimination of feedback would have ever occurred, as the global community seemed to want to provide the necessary help to the Afghan people. The likelihood of violence occurring diminished over time, as the International Coalition against terrorism gained a stronger and stronger foothold in Afghanistan. Senator Corker stopping continued funding until financial accountability occurred is a good example of dealing with a lack of response from the leader.

Global Community

The global community does well to seek forgiveness from Hamid Karzai and the Afghan people. They each were struggling. The Kabul banking failure was a clear indication Afghanistan as a nation could not manage their banking system, let alone contributions from foreign investors. The failure to establish security outside of Kabul did not encourage strong leaders to come to Afghanistan and provide leadership help to this culture. The people of Afghanistan, and their newly elected president, needed more help than they knew how to request. Maintaining the flow of money into a troublesome banking system does not show good decision making by those providing assistance to a struggling new democracy. Any mandate from the international community, forcing democracy on a country who was unable to even achieve improved public health, is a not helpful. It is easily perceived as a reversal of motives and priorities, which would be received as oppressing the Afghan people. The Afghan people must find physical health as a contributor to achieving the enormous task of establishing a nation based upon democracy. Finally, the decade of effort which did not establish the necessary infrastructure to achieve economic growth within Afghanistan would struggle any business graduate to explain how this leadership strategy could ever expect to achieve profitability. The international community should have realized it was asking for more than the Afghan people could deliver at the onset, by moving to shrink goals and timescales, then building smaller successes into larger successes.

Romans 13:1 tells us the concept of God instituting all authorities' means it is possible for all leadership to always be successful. This determination is justified by the fact God does not fail, Numbers 23:19 and Romans 5:5. The definition of successful leadership outside of God is not possible. There is the definition of success, based upon man, but this definition is not greater than God, because man is not greater than God. The person who does not serve God does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, Acts 1:13. This absence is the inability to access the greatest resource there is: God. A successful leader must find access to appropriate resources, to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. The inability to access these resources prevents some, if not all, goals and objectives to be accomplished.

There is plenty of failure in the young Afghanistan democracy. The head of state, Hamid Karzai, is the leading point in the failure experienced by the Afghan people. However, even though Hamid Karzai was the leader of the people, he alone is not the reason for the condition of the Afghan people today.


There is no clear definition of successful leadership capable of bridging democracy and Shari'a law. There is a clear definition of both deception and betrayal. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had the world to help him remove terrorism from a country who overwhelming voted for democracy. Karzai decided other agendas were more important, in an attempt stop a continuous tribal civil war raging for the next several decades. Whether Karzai lied from the beginning or changed his mind along the way is difficult, if not impossible, to ever know. What is clear is Hamid Karzai did not do what he said he would do as the elected leader of Afghanistan. This decision causes Hamid Karzai to be an unsuccessful leader, a toxic leader, and now be viewed as a terrorist.

Forgiveness is a valuable component in any leadership style and strategy combination. No leader can break fellowship with a follower and have the follower desire to continue following. The leader must seek forgiveness from the person they offended. This seeking does not assure forgiveness will be given. It does assure the follower, along with any other followers, clearly see their leader recognizes when they acted wrongly, sought to correct the problem, and did what they could to restore the relationship. This process is all anyone can ask for. It is what Jesus did for humanity. No leader can expect to offend a follower and be a successful leader, especially when those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Stephen H. Dawson is an information technology management professional, with more than 25 years of service and consulting experience. He has earned a Bachelor's of Science in Music Theory and Composition from Mary Washington College, a Master's of Business Administration from Regent University, and is a student in the Doctor of Strategic Leadership program at Regent University.


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