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Is Joe Biden Speaking Through the Washington Post Op-Ed Page?

Curious about how Vice President Joe Biden, formerly one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s biggest supporters, came to oppose an expansive state-building commitment to Karzai’s government? Norm Kurz, Biden’s former communications director, explains in a Washington Post op-ed.

Yesterday’s virtues are today’s vices. Karzai, once the man no one opposed, is the weak leader unable to knock heads; a Pashtun by heritage but hardly a tribal leader able to inspire followers; a smooth-talking politician in league with a brother running part of the country’s flourishing drug trade; a venal and power-hungry vote thief, subverting U.S. and NATO efforts to bring democracy to Afghanistan.

Sure, but the question this raises — and I don’t know the answer — is whether the U.S. ought to have seen Karzai this way earlier, or at least have tempered its formerly glowing opinion of him.

Kurz further writes:

Biden and others worked for Karzai’s success for nearly eight years and have gotten very little from their investment. But it’s also fair to ask whether basing national security decisions on the shortcomings and failures of Hamid Karzai and his regime justifies leaving Afghanistan without having done the only thing the United States was asked to do so long ago: help establish security.

It’s highly unlikely Kurz would have written this without at least Biden’s tacit approval or, at the very least, published this unless he wanted to give readers the impression that Biden believes the above paragraph. That contention holds that even Biden’s reportedly counterterrorism-heavy/Pakistan-first proposals for Afghanistan strategy would not be indifferent to Afghanistan’s fate. I’m not sure how all of this is supposed to work, but there’s a lot about Biden’s proposals that only exist behind closed doors, so everyone ought to be careful when saying they know what Biden’s about.

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