Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ahmed Rashid: Karzai going all anti-American


Ahmed Rashid, who knows Afghanistan like Peter Gammons knows the Red Sox, is always interesting on Hamid Karzai, but his new piece about the Afghan president is particularly striking. The must-reading meat of it:

Afghan president Hamid Karzai is a changed man. His worldview now is decidedly anti-Western. When I spoke with him earlier this month at the presidential palace in Kabul, Karzai told me that the United States has been unable to bring peace to Afghanistan or to secure cooperation from Pakistan, which continues to give sanctuary to the Taliban… By the end of our talk, it was quite clear to me that his views on global events, on the future course of NATO’s military surge in southern Afghanistan, and on nation building efforts throughout his country have undergone a sea change. His single overriding aim now is making peace with the Taliban and ending the war — and he is convinced it will help resolve all the other problems he faces, such as corruption, bad governance, and the lack of an administration.

Karzai’s new outlook is the most dramatic political shift he has undergone in the twenty-six years that I have known him.

This reminds me of something David Kilcullen was saying a couple of years ago, that maybe the only way to get out of these wars will be to get kicked out by the government you helped create.....

To further complicate matters Pakistan and India are fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan. These two successor states are most of what was British India. They divided on the basis of Muslim nationalism and have been enemies ever since. Kashmir is the great prize in this struggle but Pakistan believes that Indian power behind the scenes in Kabul would constitute a threat to its existence. President Karzai's clique is believed in Islamabad to be an instrument of Indian power. To defeat and block the growth of such Indian power Pakistan supports mujahid groups who contest the growth of Karzai's (and Kabul's) "reach" across the country.

These varying narratives are probably mutually exclusive.....