It is hard enough to fight your enemies. War becomes impossible if you have to fight your friends, and President Karzai seems almost determined to make the ISAF and U.S. effort in Afghanistan “mission impossible.” If it isn’t election fraud, it is corruption. If it isn’t corruption, it is power brokering. If it isn’t power brokering, it is putting more constraints on airpower. If it isn’t airpower, it is failing to provide the civilian government support needed for operations like Marjah. If it isn’t Marjah, it is trying to eliminate private security forces without a plan to replace them. And if it isn’t eliminating private security forces, it is trying to halt the tactics that are essential to clearing out the Taliban and providing the Afghan people with enough security to win their trust.
These are not problems we can afford to keep ignoring. Key elements of the Afghan government have become almost as serious a problem as the Taliban, and it is far from clear that we are fighting the same war. For Karzai and those around him, the war now seems a struggle to stay in power and not one to create effective Afghan governance and earn the support of the people.
This opportunism threatens all of the progress now being made on the ground, and the Afghan government’s track record is becoming steadily more grim. If Karzai finds it easier to criticize the United States and ISAF to ease negotiations with insurgents, then so be it. If it means criticizing America and its allies to distract the Afghan people from the failures of the Karzai government, then that is acceptable as well.