New Afghanistan Metric: The Volume of Karzai’s Whining

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 8:49 am

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in a bad mood because President Obama is too mean to him. His people ran to Some anonymous official ran to The New York Times to say so:

“He has developed a complete theory of American power,” said an Afghan who attended the lunch and who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “He believes that America is trying to dominate the region, and that he is the only one who can stand up to them.”

And that’s why Obama set a July 2011 date to begin troop reductions?

Mr. Karzai said that, left alone, he could strike a deal with the Taliban, but that the United States refuses to allow him. The American goal, he said, was to keep the Afghan conflict going, and thereby allow American troops to stay in the country.

And that’s why Amb. Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, supported removing the names of Taliban figures from a United Nations terrorism list, which frees them to travel for peace talks? Or why Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declares himself agnostic about the political backgrounds of whomever joins the Afghan government in the future? To the point where women’s-rights and human-rights activists fear that reconciliation between Karzai and the Taliban will be a massive, U.S.-supported sellout?

All of Karzai’s criticisms run in one direction: to give himself the maximum freedom of political maneuver, while soon-to-be 140,000 foreign troops and billions of dollars in foreign aid essentially backstop his government. It’s his right as a politician, but to some degree, the volume of Karzai’s complaints about being personally slighted serve as a barometric indicator that the U.S., the U.N. and NATO are broadening their commitment in Afghanistan to be about something more sustainable than a relationship between leaders.

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