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WSJ piece on Obama and Afghanistan

By magus_melchior - Posted on 24 September 2009

Here's a break from domestic politics to turn our attention to the ongoing Afghanistan conflict.

No, it's not about calls to just hurry up and send more troops. This one's about the White House strategy in Afghanistan, and how the nearly-botched election there chucked a big monkey wrench into the works.

Apparently our VP saw this one coming a mile away: Mr. Biden, in particular, has had a rocky rapport with Mr. Karzai. While still a senator, Mr. Biden famously walked out of a dinner meeting with Mr. Karzai in early 2008 after the Afghan president brushed aside criticism of rising corruption.

We touched on this a bit in the "Refreshing" blog, but it's worth probing the Karzai role, given the corruption accusations. We have long-known that the Karzai administration was full of corruption but Bush never "went there." Clearly, it's time to "go there" and I'm glad President Obama is looking at the full picture before sending more troops.

The Obama administration was well aware of allegations of corruption in Mr. Karzai's government ahead of the election, having repeatedly pressed him to sideline political allies accused of links to Afghanistan's burgeoning heroin trade.

But Mr. Karzai's behavior during the vote appears to have been a last straw, forcing Mr. Obama and his senior advisers to completely rethink the way forward. "If you decide your troop levels before you decide your strategy, it's a really bad movie," said Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's chief of staff.


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