As the U.S. deepens its commitment to defeat Taliban insurgents, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday to praise American soldiers and personally pressure the country's president, Hamid Karzai, to do his part by stamping out corruption in his government. The U.S. has been pushing Karzai, who won a second term last August in an election tainted by fraud, to appoint competent government officials, curb rampant theft, and fight opium trafficking, which fuels the insurgency. Will Obama's Afghanistan visit help turn Karzai's government around? (Watch Obama's address to U.S. troops in Afghanistan)
Obama lit a fire under Karzai: If Hamid Karzai didn't know Obama meant business before, says Daniel Stone in Newsweek, Obama made it clear by showing up at the Afghan leader's door. Obama's reputation hinges on fulfilling his promise to start bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan starting next summer, and for that to happen Karzai has to "get things moving."
"The reason for Obama’s secret trip to Afghanistan"
Obama looked like a coward: If President Obama wanted to impress Karzai with his strength, says Larry Johnson in No Quarter, he shouldn't have crept into Afghanistan under cover of darkness. By arriving at dusk and secretly meeting with Karzai at 11 p.m., Obama projected "weakness and cowardice." That's not likely to turn Karzai around, and it certainly doesn't send the Taliban the message that Obama is "confident that our military is getting control of the battlefield."
"Barack Obama, coward's tour of Afghanistan"
This trip underscored Obama's strength and weakness in Afghanistan: The secrecy surrounding Obama's visit, says Sanjeev Miglani in Reuters, was necessary for his safety, which only underscores that victory in Afghanistan is still far off. But, following his surge of 30,000 more troops, Obama has "come to own" this war. And a Washington Post poll released as Obama made his trip "showed that Afghanistan is still the one issue where Americans are behind him," so Obama has the support he needs to do what's necessary to win.
"Obama’s secret trip to Afghanistan"