It was once the case that the American and Afghan Presidents shared a certain bond. It was a cordial relationship, even warm, begun by contingency and entrenched by videoconference. But the two men’s ties did not translate into similarly deep U.S.-Afghanistan relationship, and so governance, prosperity and security all deteriorated, and Afghans and Americans died in Afghanistan while the two leaders jawboned. That was then.
“He has some strengths, but he has some weaknesses,” Obama said of Karzai. “I’m less concerned about any individual than I am with a government as a whole that is having difficulty providing basic services to its people.”
It’s unknown whether this approach will be any more successful than the previous one. Reversing an old mistake is no guarantee of avoiding new ones. And it’s unknown whether the Afghan people will see a more distant U.S. relationship with Karzai as meaningful if Washington continues to backstop his government.