06 April 2010


Fred Kaplan has a great article in Slate this morning talking about Karzai's recent rants against the United States. On April 1, he accused us of rigging Afghanistan's presidential elections last year and trying to undermine his administration. He then went on and said that the actions of the US military are legitimizing the Taliban as a resistance movement. This is my favorite part: over the weekend he met with Afghan parliamentarians who rejected Karzai's decree to appoint all members of the Electoral Complaints Commission (aren't electoral commissions supposed to be independent?... yeah, I think so). He told them that if they and the international community keep pressuring him then he will join the Taliban himself (apparently, Karzai is a robot powered by irony).

Briefly, I wanted to bring up the possibility of working around Karzai. I know that the whole point of the Afghanistan campaign is to give the central government the space to provide for the needs of the Afghan people, but doing so requires that the US government be able to work with the Afghan government. Its starting to look like it might not be possible for the US to work with the Afghan central government, so I think its time to put more emphasis on the regional governments. Kaplan talks about this point briefly and doesn't really go anywhere with it, but I think its worth pursuing intellectually. The US is already putting more emphasis on the provincial governments, so why not keep shifting focus away from the central government and toward a more federalist framework? I'm not saying all support for the central government should be dropped, but the problem with Karzai is that he sees the US as too committed to his administration to punish him for his machinations. We have to make it clear that if Karzai doesn't cooperate with the goals of the campaign then he will lose relevance as those goals are pursued without him.

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