Thursday, April 1, 2010

How do you solve a problem like Hamid Karzai?

In case anyone still was thinking that the U.S.-backed president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, who is suspected of stealing re-election last summer, was the best person to head his war-ravaged country, his comments Thursday slamming Western governments that keep him in power cost could change a lot of minds. Karzai, under fire for alleged corruption in his government as well as election fraud, blamed Western governments and the United Nations for the election fraud and Western news organizations for putting too much "pressure" on him. "There is no doubt the fraud was very widespread," Karzai said in a televised speech from Kabul, according to the New York Times, "but this fraud was not committed by Afghans, it was committed by foreigners." Karzai criticized by name United Nations special representative Peter Galbraith and European Union election monitor Philippe Morillon, who helped reveal the election fraud, the Times said. "This fraud was committed by Galbraith, this fraud was committed by Morillon and this fraud was committed by embassies," Karzai said in his speech, delivered several days after U.S. President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan to advise Karzai about cracking down on election fraud and corruption. "In this situation there is a thin curtain between invasion and cooperation-assistance,” Karzai said, warning that if foreign forces assisting his government were seen as invaders, the insurgency "could become a national resistance." Well, if this sounds crazy, it probably is. Western countries have committed thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars to oust Taliban insurgents from Kabul and to keep Afghanistan's government from being overrun, yet Karzai speaks as if their sacrifice is not the reason he's still in office. The question now, even as the United States commits tens of thousands of more soldiers to the battle, is whether the president is listening.

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