Opportunist of war
In Afghanistan, an American businessman has carved a name for himself. But it’s not a good one.
If you have spent any time in Kabul during this God-forsaken war, chances are that you drank a strawberry daiquiri at Red Hot Sizzl’n. That gated American-style steakhouse - with its crooning karaoke machines and crowded bar made of bamboo - is a magnet for private contractors who have made a killing in this war. Its owner, Roy Carver, is a symbol of so much that has gone wrong there. Legend has it that Carver, one of the first US contractors to arrive, was so brilliant at getting military contracts that he could sketch out a successful proposal on a bar napkin. His contracts ran the gamut: collecting garbage on military bases to renovating houses for the US embassy to driving trucks to Uzbekistan for the CIA. But a year ago, Carver - 76 years old and partially blind - was arrested by Afghan officials, and accused of owing his Afghan workers and subcontractors hundreds of thousands of dollars. ”He owes everyone, everyone, everyone,” one electrical supplier told me. Carver’s son-in-law, Dennis Carson, who worked with him for awhile in Afghanistan, blamed corruption for his mountain of debts. “Roy had bid into his contracts the cost of corruption - at three percent - but it turned out to be thirty,” Carson told me. ”When he discovered someone stealing money at his company, I’d want to fire him, but Roy would say, ’Oh let it go. Everybody does it.’”