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November 2nd, 2009
01:54 PM ET

With Karzai, U.S. faces weak partner in time of war

Abdullah Abdullah was at times emotional on Sunday in announcing in Kabul that he was dropping out of a runoff.

Abdullah Abdullah was at times emotional on Sunday in announcing in Kabul that he was dropping out of a runoff.

David E. Sanger
The New York Times

With the White House’s reluctant embrace on Sunday of Hamid Karzai as the winner of Afghanistan’s suddenly moot presidential runoff, President Obama now faces a new complication: enabling a badly tarnished partner to regain enough legitimacy to help the United States find the way out of an eight-year-old war.

It will not be easy. As the evidence mounted in late summer that Mr. Karzai’s forces had sought to win re-election through widespread fraud to defeat his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, administration officials made no secret of their disgust. How do you consider sending tens of thousands of additional American troops, they asked in meetings in the White House, to prop up an Afghan government regarded as illegitimate by many of its own people?

The answer was supposed to be a runoff election. Now, administration officials argue that Mr. Karzai will have to regain that legitimacy by changing the way he governs, at a moment when he is politically weaker than at any time since 2001.

“We’re going to know in the next three to six months whether he’s doing anything differently — whether he can seriously address the corruption, whether he can raise an army that ultimately can take over from us and that doesn’t lose troops as fast as we train them,” one of Mr. Obama’s senior aides said. He insisted on anonymity because of the confidentiality surrounding the Obama administration’s own debate on a new strategy, and the request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the American military commander in Afghanistan, for upward of 44,000 more troops.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • President Barack Obama
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Kendall

    I think Obama should recognize President Karzai as legitimate or risk the democratic process in Aghan country. That being said under the table P. Obama should make note we're fighting an Organized Criminal Organization on the Global Market and should plan accordingly

    November 2, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    Abdullah Abdullah has done his job,...bringing to light the true story behind the story of what probably would have been kept from the American people for years if not a decade! Your sacrifice Mr. Abdullah is of true greatness to the rest of the free world,...Bravo!

    November 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  3. rudy

    it's time to start a new chapter. the decision to have an ultimate run-off to validate the voice of the afghani people is a step forward in the direction of progress.

    November 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  4. Steve McPhee

    There is more to this story. We pay retired warlords and locals in millions for assisting us find the Taliban. Such payments can only encourage corruption when the officials are left out of the loop.

    Today we have news that President Obama congratulated President Karzai and asked his help to end corruption. How is he incented? How is his cabinet incented? How are they kept honest?

    I would love to see "keeping them honest" on the corruption topic.

    November 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  5. Cindy

    We will had a weak partner in Afghanistan no matter who won the election. Both sides are corrupt so it really doesn't matter who's running things there. We still get the shaft it seems.

    Cindy..Ga.

    November 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm |