This month, President Obama canceled a White House meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Insulted and "incensed," Karzai turned around and invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give a harrowing anti-American speech in Afghanistan. What does this say about Karzai and his relationship with the Obama administration?
- Karzai Wants More Leverage Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent writes: "All of Karzai’s criticisms run in one direction: to give himself the maximum freedom of political maneuver, while soon-to-be 140,000 foreign troops and billions of dollars in foreign aid essentially backstop his government. It’s his right as a politician, but to some degree, the volume of Karzai’s complaints about being personally slighted serve as a barometric indicator that the U.S., the U.N. and NATO are broadening their commitment in Afghanistan to be about something more sustainable than a relationship between leaders."
- Maybe Too Hard on Him? Gregg Carlstrom at The Majlis explains why: "I'm not sure why he's getting dinged for meeting with Ahmadinejad: Iran is a neighbor, a country with a significant (and rapidly evolving) role in Afghanistan; the two countries have a bilateral relationship. Karzai simply met with his Iranian counterpart, a fairly uneventful geopolitical event. What should Karzai do? Ignore Iran?"
- Obama Right to Get Tough The New York Times editorial board comes out hard against Karzai: "The United States and others rightly cried foul -- the administration even canceled Mr. Karzai's planned White House visit -- after the Afghan president issued a decree that would allow him to appoint all of the members of the election watchdog commission that exposed the fraud in last year's election...Mr. Karzai's failure to devote maximum effort to fix his government is self-destructive. So is his recent cozying up to Iran's repressive government -- a clear effort to spite his American critics. We hope Mr. Obama told Mr. Karzai all of that in no uncertain terms."
- This Is a Delicate Dance, writes Gerald Seib at The Wall Street Journal: "American officials play down the significance of Mr. Karzai's symbolic embrace of Iran's leader, describing it as the sort of thing he has to do to cope with a powerful neighbor that isn't going away. Still, the byplay illustrates why Iran's nuclear program isn't the only problem American leaders have to worry about. The broader concern is Iran's interest in becoming a more powerful regional player. Indeed, Iran's nuclear program is worrisome in part because a nuclear-armed Iran would be even better able to intimidate its neighbors."