Karzai V. Obama

Afghan president Hamid Karzai is grousing about the coming influx of some 30,000 U.S. troops into his country, warning that their presence near populated areas like Kabul will create more friction and resentment between the U.S. and his people. (Karzai wants our troops along the border with Pakistan to stop militants from entering his country there.) His words are the latest troubling sign of where Afghan public opinion is headed. Many Americans may believe that, unlike in Iraq, our presence has been quite welcome by (non-Taliban) Afghans. But Karzai's increasingly sharp criticisms suggest he senses otherwise. Here's Karzai talking to the Chicago Tribune in must-read interview for anyone interested in this situation:

For years I've been saying that the war on terrorism is not in
Afghanistan, that it's in the training camps, it's in sanctuaries [in
Pakistan]. Rather than going there, the coalition went around the
Afghan villages, burst into people's homes and … committing
extrajudicial killings in our country. The latest example was the day
before yesterday in Khost, where a man, a woman and a 12-year-old boy
were killed. Were they Al Qaeda? And even if they were, was there a
court order to shoot them down in their homes? And if they were, was
the 12-year-old boy Al Qaeda too? Or the woman? And if this behavior
continues, we will be in a deeper trench than we are in today. And the
war against terrorism will end in a disgraceful defeat.

Also quite interesting: Karzai vehemently opposes creating and arming tribal militias in an attempt to replicate the Sunni Awakening of Iraq's Anbar province. He says such an approach would be "a disaster."Photo: Afghan President Hamid Karzai's image is seen in the viewfinder of a
video camera as he speaks during the International Anti-corruption Day
in Kabul on December 18, 2008. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

--Michael Crowley

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