Karzai's Government Too Rotten to Back

Sending more troops won't work if they're protecting a tainted government
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2009 1:19 AM CDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures to journalists after giving a press conference at Presidential Palace in Kabul.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – No counterinsurgency campaign can succeed without a good government to work with, and Hamid Karzai's operation is nowhere near good enough, writes Thomas L. Friedman. Karzai's government is thoroughly corrupt and his election victory deeply tainted, Friedman notes in the New York Times. Much of the insurgency is now fueled by anti-Karzai animosity instead of Islamic extremism, Friedman notes, and the US risks being seen as the enforcer of his corrupt government.

To have any chance of success in Afghanistan, Friedman argues, the US must order the Karzai government to clean up to become acceptable to the Afghan people, and threaten to pull out if Karzai balks. "It doesn’t have to be Switzerland, but it does have to be good enough—that is, a government Afghans are willing to live under," Friedman writes. "Without that, more troops will only delay a defeat."