It was an arresting lead editorial yesterday at Fred Hiatt's Washington Post yesterday. While no one disputes Karzai's corruption and his erratic behavior and almost everyone acknowledges the extraordinary difficulty of conducting a counter-insurgency in defense of an Afghan government riddled with corruption and inspiring little loyalty ... the WaPo suddenly finds a reason to criticize Obama for getting tough with Kabul:
Does Mr. Obama think that holding the Afghan president at arm's length is likely to prompt more responsiveness to U.S. concerns? Is he trying to show the Afghan people that U.S. support for an unpopular government is not unconditional? If so, he may have miscalculated: Not only has Mr. Karzai responded defiantly, but he has also appealed to Afghan resentment against foreign troops and political tutelage.
A strange criticism. Baffling in a way. Until you realize why:
As in the case of the very public spat he initiated with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mr. Obama's treatment of Mr. Karzai doesn't seem to flow from a careful strategy.
Self-parody, I know. But hilarious nonetheless.