Hard To Get, Please

This is rich:

“Is the United States a reliable partner with Afghanistan? Is the West a reliable partner with Afghanistan?” Karzai asked. “Have we received the commitments that we were given? Have we been treated like a partner?”

Yglesias provides a nice rebuttal:

[A] hawkish disposition and an obsession with toughness tend to erode our ability to play hard to get. For example, consider the widespread ideas that we’re fighting a “necessary” war in Afghanistan and that the cooperation of Hamid Karzai is vital to our success in that war. These two ideas, when put in combination, lead to the slightly absurd conclusion that securing the cooperation of Hamid Karzai is necessary for the national security of the most powerful country on earth.

In the real world, it should be the other way around.

We have interests in Afghanistan that it would be nice to successfully pursue. But Karzai’s interests are much more fundamental than ours. What’s necessaryor at least closer to necessaryis for him to secure our cooperation by acting in a way that’s helpful. And it’s the same for Poland and Georgia and all the rest. Relationships with friendly clients are nice to have, but the wise superpower should know how to play hard to get.