Diplomatic relations between U.S. and Afghanistan have been hampered lately by the increasingly "erratic" behavior of President Hamid Karzai. He has accused foreigners of rigging last year's elections, and reportedly threatened to "join the Taliban" if his international allies refused to ease pressure on him to reform. One former UN envoy even suggested the Afghan president was using drugs. With Obama now considering pulling out of next month's talks with Karzai, is it time to cut the Afghan president loose? (Watch the UN envoy's comments)
Give him an ultimatum: Karzai has simply realized what a powerful position he is in, says Fred Kaplan at Slate. Because the US has "so much stake in Afghanistan," Karzai thinks he has almost unlimited leverage. It's the "politico-military equivalent of 'too big to fail.'" Obama must get tough with him. Let Karzai know if he hasn't "proved to be a reliable partner" by the end of 2010, "it's time for us to back someone else — or leave."
"Has Karzai gone crazy?"
Obama must make nice with Karzai: President Obama seems to have a "talent for turning friends into enemies," says an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. While Karzai has been "disappointing as a nation builder," the U.S. recognized his election, and must learn to get on with him. Obama needs to show some of the "inordinate patience" he displays to his adversaries, and end this "counterproductive war of words."
"The Karzai fiasco"
Cut Karzai out of the loop: This diplomatic snafu could imperil plans to withdraw American troops next summer, says Bing West in the New York Times. The best solution is to treat Karzai as a "symbolic president" and divert the "flows of information and resources" to "local and provincial leaders who will act responsibly." Granted, it will leave a "diminished" Karzai running a "sloppy government" — but "we are not obliged to build a democratic nation under a feckless leader."
"How to save Afghanistan from Karzai"