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Karzai: In the crosshairs?

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

The New York Times reports that as part of his effort to refocus American military actions in the Muslim toward Afghanistan, President Barack Obama is reconsidering the strong backing afforded Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the Bush years.

During his whirlwind world tour this summer, undertaken to prove that he had foreign policy bona fides, Obama captured headlines for criticizing Karzai, saying he needed to do more as the U.S.’s ally. Some of that rhetoric was toned down after his meeting with the leader in Afghanistan, but the hard line is back.

Pushing Obama in this direction are Veep Joe Biden, a longtime Karzai critic, and Richard Holbrooke, the veteran Clinton-era diplomat and Obama’s other special envoy, this time for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This is being sold—you guessed it—as a departure.

The officials portrayed the approach as a departure from that of President Bush, who held video conferences with Mr. Karzai every two weeks and sought to emphasize the American role in rebuilding Afghanistan and its civil institutions.

They said that the Obama administration would work with provincial leaders as an alternative to the central government, and that it would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents.

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