That was quite an image, seeing Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai announce that he’ll accept a runoff election. Well, not just that, but seeing him flanked by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who stopped in Kabul during a trip to Pakistan to discuss his reviled aid bill. Kerry, it’s now being widely reported, was instrumental in closing the deal with Karzai, with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry turning to Kerry on Friday in Kabul to enlist his aid. The Wall Street Journal:
That night, Sen. Kerry went to the presidential palace, where the two men, sometimes accompanied by Mr. Eikenberry and sometimes alone, hashed out Mr. Karzai’s concerns. “We had lot of hours together and talked about a lot of things, including the American experience in elections, and going back to 1864, Al Gore in 2000,” Sen. Kerry said. “I think it helped to put it into a certain framework.”
Within days, Karzai agreed to the runoff, and Kerry was next to him in front of a bank of cameras, calling Karzai a statesman. This is a very big deal: with Kerry’s intervention, Karzai avoided a situation that might have meant a drastic revision of Obama’s Afghanistan plans, and not in any positive direction.
After reading all of this stuff last night, I tweeted a prediction that Kerry may have just clinched a gig as Secretary of State when Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to move on. Kerry lobbied hard for the job last year after vigorously supporting Obama on the campaign trail, and was just barely passed over for Obama’s former presidential rival. On the eve of the election — in fact, on the day-of – it was my understanding he’d get the position.
But he remains a close confidante of the president, particularly on foreign affairs. Kerry will meet with Obama privately today at the White House to discuss Afghanistan. Chances are they won’t talk about any future emissary role, but it might be hovering in the background.
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