He may want to consider where he travels before the next April Fools Day. Several days after President Barack Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he graciously met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to show support (while lamenting “slow progress"), Karzai reciprocated with a vicious prank.
Possibly referencing corruption in general, Karzai blamed foreigners for “fraud” in the August election, runoff, and even in the Afghan parliament. The next day State Secretary Hillary Clinton called him to “clarify” his remarks, after which they supposedly had a “constructive talk.”
But how real can two actors be?
Rather than give any indication that Karzai is breaking away from Washington and that Afghanistan is drifting, the White House doubled down on its risky gamble with others’ money. Karzai’s latest controversy corresponded to silent troops requests to Canada, France, and Germany.
White House officials also sought to allay the fears of the US public, whose trust of Karzai hovers in the 20’s, by assuring us they are “concerned.” Spokesman Robert Gibbs described Karzai’s comments as “troubling,” a candidate for understatement of the year, then proceeded to assure us Karzai is cleaning up his act.
It doesn’t seem that the White House abides by the shame of being fooled twice. Instead it’s passing the buck to Americans again.
The first storm had barely passed when Karzai brewed up another. After doing damage control all week, Karzai recently told a group of parliament members, “that if foreign interference in his government continues, the Taliban would become a legitimate resistance — one that he might even join, according to several lawmakers present.”
Gibbs’ reply: "On behalf of the American people, we're frustrated with the remarks."
On the contrary, we understand what Karzai is up to - it’s the White House’s strategy that we're "frustrated" with. Obama’s strategy is what a large part of America is concerned with, not Karzai specifically. Gates response along with other Obama officials is a feeble attempt to both mitigate and capitalize on US opposition to the war and distrust of Karzai.
Last week was like plugging your ears and now covering your eyes to the reality of Afghanistan. Karzai, regardless of his true merit, is not a partner Obama can succeed with in the time he has given himself.
So, after taking so much time to review the war, will the White House review its strategy as serious holes are already rip into it? Or will it plow head and warn Karzai to stay quiet?
"These comments can undercut the kind of support that we think we need on all sides of this equation if we're going to move forward," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley concluded in a comical briefing. "Clearly, you know, what he says does have an impact back here in the United States and he should choose his words carefully."
But in a way we should be thankful to Karzai for revealing his true feelings and intentions. If he was a good little puppet we would have less awareness of Afghanistan’s fractious position, both within itself and with the West.
At this point Americans aren’t outraged at Karzai so much as Obama for resting America’s fate on him. Does the White House not understand this dilemma - is it truly delusional? Or is it merely displaying a false countenance while inwardly panicking?
Either presents a bad road down Afghanistan, and we know who always ends up paying the price.