Andrew Exum reacts to the leak that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry is skeptical of escalation in Afghanistan:
Last week Michael Semple bluntly stated that the most important dynamic in Afghanistan was the relationship between the "international community" (for which we should read, he said: "United States of America") and the government of Afghanistan. Well how is that going to work now? It's now common knowledge that Karl Eikenberry -- the U.S. ambassador -- thinks you, Hamid Karzai, lead a collection of corrupt and ineffective goons unworthy of further U.S. investment! Whoever leaked these classified cables has cut the knees out from underneath the most important U.S. representative in Kabul!
All of this is to say that Karl Eikenberry -- whatever you think of the man -- got royally screwed by some short-sighted jerks in the 202 area code. The cables had already been deliberated upon by the president and his advisors, but that wasn't enough, so some idiots decided to also make the cables public knowledge. Now whatever U.S. policy goes forward -- counterinsurgency, counter-terror, withdrawal, rape and pillage, whatever -- is going to suffer for the soured relationship between our man in Kabul and the government of Afghanistan.
Ackerman writes up this mornings Afghanistan White House meeting from the perspective of an anti-Eikenberry staffer:
It was a tense meeting this morning at the White House, as Ambassador Karl Eikenberry addressed the National Security Council by teleconference from Kabul just hours after the media got hold of his dissent on the crucial question of sending more troops to Afghanistan. “He is very unpopular here,” said a National Security Council staffer who described the meeting.
No one was happy to read in The Washington Post that Eikenberry, who commanded the war himself from 2005 to 2007, thinks that the Karzai government needs to demonstrate its commitment to anti-corruption measures before the administration can responsibly authorize another troop increase. The prevailing theory is that “he leaked his own cables” because “he has a beef with McChrystal,” the staffer said. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Eikenberry’s successor as NATO commander in Afghanistan, has requested an increase in troops to support a counterinsurgency strategy with a substantial counterterrorism component.
Follow up by Ackerman here.