Why Is Karzai 'Longing' For President Bush?

The Afghan president called the Bush administration a "golden age"

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A U.S. State Department cable from July 2009, released by WikiLeaks, shows Afghan President Hamid Karzai pining for the early years of the Bush administration, which he called a "golden age" for the country. Here's what Afghanistan-watchers are saying about this strange admission, including the pushback Karzai got from U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, who wrote the cable in question.

  • How Eikenberry Responded  Here are excerpts from U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry's response to Karzai's "golden age" comments, which Eikenberry called "a familiar theme."
I reminded Karzai that we had agreed our discussion would be forward-looking, rather than dwell on past grievances. I also reminded him the U.S. and ISAF had made a tremendous effort over the past year to avoid civilian casualties.

... I also took issue with Karzai's "golden age" perspective, reminding him that I had been in Afghanistan during this period. It was clear, even at that time, that trouble was brewing as the focus on security and reconstruction drifted and declined due to lack of resources and a comprehensive strategy. I urged Karzai to recognize that President Obama is providing the U.S.-Afghan partnership with the tools necessary to build a lasting foundation for Afghanistan's success
  • The Romance Is Over  Newser's Polly David Doig quips, "The White House doesn't bring Hamid Karzai flowers anymore, and the Afghan president is caught in a diplomatic cable waxing poetically over 'the golden age' of US-Afghan relations under George W Bush. The cable was sent by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry last year after a meeting with Karzai, reports the Huffington Post. Eikenberry admonished Karzai, diplomatically, we assume, to get his head in the present."
  • 'Consumed' By Anti-Americanism  The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel evaluates: "Longing for the early years of the Bush administration, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been consumed by anti-U.S. conspiracy theories, convinced American officials are now working against him." She says Karzai is taking "a 'blame America' approach" and that this makes "him and the Afghan government not seem like credible partners." She adds, "Karzai was convinced that Obama administration officials were helping his challengers."
  • Proves Obama's Failure  Conservative blogger Jim Hoft writes, "It's not just the American people who are sick of the Obama-Pelosi regime. Afghan leader Harmid Karzai wrote in 2009 that he longed for the 'golden age' of US-Afghan relations like during the Bush years. ... Barack Obama has been accused of having no strategy, no benchmarks and no end point when it comes to Afghanistan."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.