The Skeptics

Troubling Similarities Between Afghanistan and Vietnam

Controversy and Afghan President Hamid Karzai continue to cross paths.  Today there is news that high-level officals in Kabul and Karzai's relatives may be involved in an illicit money-transfer business.  Ted Galen Carpenter and I argue today in the Los Angeles Times that Washington's support for Karzai reveals a troubling pattern in U.S. policy:

Amid growing debate about whether the United States should stay in Afghanistan, one issue of agreement is that Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, is both the central figure in the war and its weakest link.

Recent embarrassing controversies between Karzai and Washington — including a move this month by the Afghan leader to hinder U.S.-backed anti-corruption investigations in Kabul — reveal a troubling pattern in U.S. foreign policy. U.S. leaders have a tendency to hail flawed foreign leaders as the saviors of their countries, only to publicly disparage them later for not meeting America's lofty expectations.

In dealing with the erratic and unreliable Karzai, Washington is replicating the pattern of exaltation and subsequent blame-shifting it followed five decades ago with South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. That episode produced famously disastrous results.

You can read the entire op-ed here.