US – Foreign Policy – Afghanistan – Strategy – Obama – Hamid Karzai – 10 December 2009
12.26pm: John Dickerson highlights Obama’s dilemma in having to put the squeeze on Karzai without being too blatant about it. It’s an old problem. There were lots of stories about how the Bush administration was impatient with Nouri-al Maliki in Iraq. Frances Fitzgerald likened the difficult relationship between patrons and wayward clients to that between Prospero and Caliban in her book on the Vietnam war, Fire in the Lake. During the Vietnam war the troublesome local leader was Nguyen Van Thieu. Here’s Dickerson’s take on the Obama-Karzai dynamic.
Obama knows the government in Kabul is corrupt or, more benignly, that Karzai’s goals don’t match America’s. President Obama wants to pressure Kabul but can’t be seen to be doing so too openly, or it will undermine Karzai with his own people. So President Obama announced no verifiable set of benchmarks or penalties for Afghanistan—the very requirements that Sen. Obama said were necessary for for Bush’s Iraq troop surge in 2007.

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