Feature

Karzai’s growing defiance

President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to confront Karzai for failing to combat rampant corruption, government ineptitude, and drug trafficking.

President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan this week to deliver a stern message to President Hamid Karzai, amid signs that Karzai’s defiance and resentment of the U.S. is growing. During the six-hour visit, Obama chided Karzai for failing to combat rampant corruption, government ineptitude, and drug trafficking. Karzai has been scolded for these failures for years, but Obama’s trip—his first to Afghanistan since taking office—was intended to hammer the message home. Relations have been prickly between the two leaders since Karzai’s fraud-tainted re-election in August.

In recent weeks, the Afghan leader has been openly complaining that Americans are not in Afghanistan to build a peaceful country but to “dominate” the region with a large troop presence, The New York Times reported. To spite the U.S., Karzai recently hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Kabul, where the Iranian president delivered a fiery, anti-American speech. A White House official said the administration is trying to keep pressure on Karzai to reform his government, without alienating him entirely. “We’re coming to terms with dealing with the Karzai we have.”

So this is why we’ve sacrificed the lives of 1,000 U.S. soldiers? asked Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. This is why we’ve already spent $200 billion to pull Afghanistan out of the Dark Ages? Karzai is a garden-variety dictator who will do “whatever serves his personal power,” and “once we clear, hold, and build Afghanistan for him, he is going to break our hearts.”

To determine if Obama’s visit had any impact, said Major Garrett in FoxNews.com, watch what happens to Karzai’s brother. Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the local government in Kandahar, has been linked to the bustling opium trade and has done nothing as the Taliban “rebuilt its strength” there. The U.S. will launch an assault on Kandahar in June. Will Ahmed Karzai still be running the city afterward?

Obama did the right thing in delivering a “pointed message” to Karzai, said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. “It was not long ago that Obama was seen as weak,” but over the past year he’s learned that toughness and resolution count. Let’s hope Obama’s education continues.

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