Crazy Karzai Regime Is 'Too Big to Fail'

Erratic Afghan leader understands how deep US is in, acts accordingly
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2010 9:20 AM CDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The US is engaged in “asymmetrical” warfare with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Fred Kaplan writes, but it also suffers an asymmetrical relationship with an increasingly erratic head of state—Hamid Karzai. His regime “depends entirely on the United States,” sure, but because Western powers “have—and keep saying that they have—so much stake in Afghanistan, Karzai understands that he has much more leverage than the simple math might suggest.”

“It's like the old joke,” Kaplan writes at Slate. “If you owe the bank $1 million, the bank owns you; if you owe the bank $1 billion, you own the bank. We're the bank.” Karzai seems to understand that his regime is the “politico-military equivalent of ‘too big to fail,’” and is milking his status for all it’s worth. The Obama administration has said that the success of the surge will be apparent by the end of this year. But “success or failure is, in large measure, up to Karzai. If he hasn't proved to be a reliable partner by then, it's time for us to back someone else—or leave.”

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