"Afghanistan's Karzai arrives in Washington for visit intended to ease tensions"
A Washington Post story delves into some of the rifts in the high ranks of the military over strategies and policies in Afghanistan, specifically where it regards how to handle Hamid Karzai. An excerpt of the more compelling aspects of the story (the last half, dealing with military brass in the place of dinner with Joe Biden) appears below ...
(By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010)
Tensions in the administration's relationship with Karzai began a year ago, when U.S. officials sought to find a viable candidate to challenge him in presidential elections held in August. Karzai eventually won another five-year term amid widespread allegations of fraud. Although the administration pledged a renewed partnership, sharp exchanges over the last several months have tested both sides.
Although recognizing the need to maintain good relations with Karzai, the administration hopes to dilute his authority and enhance regional stability in Afghanistan by strengthening government at the district and local levels. Strong local governance is viewed as crucial to the success of an upcoming offensive in the southern city of Kandahar -- a Taliban stronghold -- that U.S. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal said Monday would be "decisive" in the overall Afghanistan war effort.
Karzai's visit also comes amid reports of dissension between McChrystal, the overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired three-star general who once had McChrystal's job. As Obama was formulating his new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy late last summer, Eikenberry sent a pair of diplomatic cables to Washington questioning Karzai's competence and whether any strategy could succeed as long as he was president.
Asked at a White House media briefing Monday whether his concerns had been allayed, Eikenberry said that "Karzai is the elected president of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a close friend and ally, and of course I highly respect President Karzai in that capacity."
McChrystal, who also spoke at the briefing, tried to head off questions about reports of personal and policy disagreements between him and Eikenberry, opening his remarks by saying: "It's good to be here today with my colleague and friend Karl Eikenberry."
Eikenberry returned the favor, beginning his statement by complimenting the remarks of "my friend and partner in Afghanistan over many years, General Stan McChrystal."
The two have disagreed, among other things, on whether to address Afghanistan's energy and agricultural problems with quick-fix solutions proposed by the military or more sustainable projects, favored by Eikenberry, that take longer to show results. In a report released Monday, the Center for American Progress, generally supportive of the administration, charged that "officials are paying too little attention to the sustainability of the programs and the Afghan state we are achieving."
The center, staffed by many former Obama campaign advisers, said that the Karzai government "operates on a highly centralized patronage model in which power and resources are channeled through Hamid Karzai's personal and political allies" in a system that "invites corruption, rent-seeking, and a hemorrhaging of domestic legitimacy."
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
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