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Clinton: U.S. Seeks Relationship With Afghanistan, Not Just With Karzai

If this came in any other context except the aftermath of a dispiriting, fraud-filled election, this statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a mundane discussion of how U.S. interests in a given country have to go beyond a dialogue with that country’s leaders. But since we’re talking about Afghanistan and the administration is less than pleased with the return of Hamid Karzai to power, this comment, delivered at a Marrakesh civil-society conference, looks significant:

I just finished an important meeting with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and we discussed about how we’re going to work to support the newly reelected president. But we’re going to be expecting more and we’re going to be providing the kind of assistance and guidance that fall within a demand for greater accountability, a serious effort against corruption, more transparency.

We’re going to try to build up the capacity of the government and make sure that we have a partner not just in the president, but in the government in Kabul and the government in the local areas of Afghanistan, as well as the civil society in Afghanistan. Because the struggle that they are engaged in and the threat that they face must be met by everyone doing more and being more accountable to deliver results.

My emphasis. This is the first on-record administration acknowledgment that its gaze is turning, Nagl/Fontaine-like, to local governance in response to Karzai’s fraud and intransigence on adopting anti-corruption measures.

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