In the Arena

Trouble with Karzai

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Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist who knows Afghanistan better than anyone, has scored a disturbing interview with Hamid Karzai, in which the Afghan leader really does seem to be getting tired of the American military strategy–specifically, the special operations night raids targeting Taliban leaders, which have been the most successful tactic that David Petraeus (and Stan McChrystal before him) has employed in recent months.

The most interesting, and depressing, aspect of Rashid’s piece is the comparison of Karzai and Najibullah, the Russian quasi-puppet, especially their respective behaviors as their respective sponsors began to talk about leaving. (Najibullah eventually was hung from a Kabul lightpost.) This fits with a new and growing aspect of  Afghan war journalism and scholarly writing: comparisons between the U.S. and Soviet efforts, not always to our advantage.

I’ll be heading back to Afghanistan just after Thanksgiving for another look at the war, and will obviously have more to say on this subject in the weeks to come.