Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who Is Going to Take Him to the Prom?

This month, with President Hamid Karzai looking ahead to a visit to the White House, he received a terse note from aides to President Obama: Your invitation has been revoked.(NYT)
 A recurring theme here at the Semi-Spew is that Karzai has been an unreliable partner and that Obama may ultimately decide to drop-kick him, rather than continue to invest more $$ and lives in a project that depends in large part on him. 

So, Karzai gets so upset by this revoked invitation, itself a response to another Karzai spit-in-the-face (underming the electoral commission) that he invites Iran's leader to town.  Um, isn't that the same Iran that has sometimes helped improve the IED technology that is killing his citizens?  Sure, but better be loved by a unpopular lunatic and trade secrets on how to steal elections in the most visible, most annoying ways.

And this is enormously frustrated to the US.  How do American officials deal with such a difficult "partner"?
“We’re trying to find this balance of keeping pressure on him, without setting up bluffs that can be called,” said a senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “We’re coming to terms with dealing with the Karzai we have.”
Kind of reminds me of the Rummy quote--you fight the war you have, not the one you wish you had.  Well, Rummy and Bush are the gifters that keep giving.  They picked Karzai and then gave him the sense of unaccountability/entitlement that he currently possesses. 

The article contains a series of statements that Karzai has been alleged to make about his views of American motives, including the desire for the US to stay around a long time.  If he continues to act on these beliefs, he is likely find himself hanging from a lamppost as the Taliban come back into town after an American withdrawal.  While that would provide some (including myself) with a heaping spoonful of Schadenfreude, it probably is not good for anyone in the region or beyond.

The Obama administration, which had floated several dates for a Karzai visit but not decided on one, decided to delay it, several officials said.“We wanted to have a great visit,” one official said. “But in order to have a great visit, we needed to see four or five things happen.”
 Ooo, ooo!  Can I guess the four or five things?  It's my blog, so I guess I can.
  1. 1)  Perhaps a smidge of distance between Karzai and Ahmedinejad.
  2. 2) Perhaps spending a bit less time playing up the collateral damage caused by ISAF and a bit more time highlighting the damage the Taliban do on a daily basis.  ISAF is far less dangerous to civilians than the Taliban are--would be nice if he pointed that out.
  3. 3) Encourage his brother, Wali, to move to Switzerland or some place else, rather than be the poster boy for a corrupt government.
  4. 4) Find a few ministers (including the Minister of Defense) who are not so obviously corrupt.
  5. 5) Stop disparaging the US to everyone he meets.  It is one thing to provide constructive criticism, it is another to take positions during an election campaign, and it is entirely another to be trashing the US now.  
2011 is going to be a very interesting year.  If Karzai thinks that Obama is bluffing, he might just consider how the Republicans have fared when they have tried to push Obama off of his hand.

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