Obama’s visit to Afghanistan and limits of U.S. power

This is realpolitick, the messy business of accepting the world as it is and making tough choices, not between good and evil, but between bad and less-bad: President Obama went to Afghanistan to warn President Hamid Karzai to clean up the corruption in his government. But Obama knows perfectly well that Karzai will continue to be corrupt.

Equally troubling, Karzai is making common cause with America’s enemies. Recently, he received Iranian President Marmoud Ahmadinejad, who used the occasion to insult the U.S. Karzai depends on U.S. troops to stay in office.

Mr. Obama’s visit to Afghanistan came against a backdrop of tension between Mr. Karzai and the Americans that has not substantially abated since Mr. Karzai was declared the winner of an election tainted by fraud. In the wake of last August’s election, the United Nations and the United States, as well as other NATO countries, demanded that Mr. Karzai make major overhauls in the electoral system, tacitly indicating that they might withhold money for the next election if they did not see changes.

Mr. Karzai recently overhauled the Afghan election complaint commission, but made it less neutral by claiming the right to appoint all five members. Currently, three of the members are appointed by the United Nations. The move infuriated some Western diplomats here who saw it as almost a taunt.

Further aggravating tensions was a conference in London at the end of January at which corruption was a major topic and Western officials again made clear that they felt Mr. Karzai had fallen short. Recently, he has strengthened the anticorruption commission, and the attorney general appears to be moving forward on a handful of high-profile cases involving former government figures. Corruption remains pervasive, however, and Mr. Karzai has not used his position as a bully pulpit to change the culture.

“He’s slipping away from the West,” said a senior European diplomat in Kabul.

Still, the Obama administration has probably chosen the best course: Increase the U.S. troop presence to try to curb the influence of the Taliban; give the Karzai government a chance to spread stability to more of the country; and then get the heck out. That’s the best the U.S. can hope for.
We don’t have the will or the resources to stay in Afghanistan for decades. Even if we did, we probably couldn’t change the country very much.

141 comments Add your comment

Scout

March 29th, 2010
8:11 am

Just like we know Obama will continue to be corrupt …………………

Granny Godzilla

March 29th, 2010
8:12 am

I understand he gave Karzai 60 minutes notice….

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:17 am

Scout, Please give your definition of “corrupt” and then give an instance of Obama demonstrating that quality

Whacks Eloquent

March 29th, 2010
8:31 am

The sooner we in America realize we can’t really change the mindset of people in these countries, the better. Removing a hateful regime like the Taliban is tough enough, but the cultural differences are just too high to get them to accept American-style democracy. The people there have not demonstrated a high desire for freedom, so as long as the human rights violations are curbed, I’d call that success and move on…I won’t accuse President Obama of being corrupt, I don’t think he is, much as I disagree with some of his views – but there is plenty of corruption in American politics. (see earmarks…)
I like the surprise visit by the President, it gives the air of America still being on its game.

vracer

March 29th, 2010
8:34 am

Scout, right on target. Cynthia sees things through race based filters and can’t see that the Obama “feel good” experiment will not be repeated for generations. Any unbiased observer can cite a multitude of examples of corruption in their handling of the health care bill alone.

T-Town

March 29th, 2010
8:36 am

This reminds me of a place far away (but not too far from Afghanistan) where we assisted in the country’s elections, even helping it choose it’s leader and fight it’s war. The Democrats started it, the Republicans escalated it and we left it with a “peace with honor” though I remember it didn’t conclude just the way we wanted.

Granny Godzilla

March 29th, 2010
8:37 am

vracer

go for it….unless of course you are not an “unbiased observer”…

there’s plenty of room for that multitude of examples, i’ll start a fresh pot of coffee while we wait.

Tommy

March 29th, 2010
8:38 am

When Bush made these brief trips Tucker and the liberals derided the photo op. Now that Obama does the drive by, it’s statesmanlike. Is it just perspective and politics? Or perhaps hypocricy?

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:42 am

vracer, If you insist on inserting race into my posts, you’ll have to find another site. Some of my readers, like you, insist that I inject race into everything. That’s what psychiatrists call “projecting” — accusing others of what you, in fact, are guilty of.

vracer

March 29th, 2010
8:44 am

Come on Cynthia, read your own stuff, it reaks with race.

vracer

March 29th, 2010
8:45 am

Your’e a big girl, admit it.

Granny Godzilla

March 29th, 2010
8:48 am

Tommy

as in the 2003 visit and the fake turkey? yep, that was a photo op.

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:50 am

vracer, You are very close to being banned.

pat

March 29th, 2010
8:50 am

Weren’t you against the troop increase? Why yes, you were. So now it’s the best course:
“Still, the Obama administration has probably chosen the best course: Increase the U.S. troop presence to try to curb the influence of the Taliban”

So, it boils down to this. If obama does it, whether you agree or not, it’s the best course of action???
No, you’re not a sheep. No really, I mean it….o brother.

T-Town

March 29th, 2010
8:51 am

vracer, I have reread what Ms. Tucker wrote and unlike you found nothing even remote mentioning race. That said something she did say has me troubled: “Still, the Obama administration has probably chosen the best course: Increase the U.S. troop presence to try to curb the influence of the Taliban; give the Karzai government a chance to spread stability to more of the country; and then get the heck out. That’s the best the U.S. can hope for.”

History may be repeating itself and apparently we didn’t learn from our past mistakes.

kayaker 71

March 29th, 2010
8:51 am

The big sham is that Bozo thinks that Karzi will pay attention to him and change his ways. Karzi has no more respect for this clown than Bibi, the Soviets, Western Europe or the Muslims. Bozo can rattle his saber all he wants and he still comes across as an empty suit.

T-Town

March 29th, 2010
8:53 am

Enter your comments here

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:55 am

pat, I wasn’t “against” the troop increase. I was troubled by it. I still am. I don’t tend to see complex choices in terms of right v wrong, good v bad. That’s simply not my world view

Scout

March 29th, 2010
8:56 am

Ms. Tucker:

Just for starters, telling lies is corrupt. He has broken campaign after campaign promise (I wish you would accept attachments on your threads …….. I have a great one to show you called “Seven Lies in Two Minutes”. He surrounds himself with staff/Czars who are corrupt and who are from radical backgrounds.

I spent 34 years in federal law enforcement ……… I know corrupt when I see it.

You are supposed to be an “investigative journalist” I assume? Do your job without partiality and see what happens.

joan

March 29th, 2010
8:57 am

About corruption in government. We are fine ones to try to project our “values” on others. We have a president and administration foisting on the American people (for the people’s good of course) a health care plan that was put together in secret conclaves of the most liberal democrats, bought by twisting other democrats arms or bribing them, to continue to take more from the 5% of the taxpayers who are now supporting 95% of the country, to give to the have nots (who seem to be growing as a demographic–and probably due to the ease with which they can stay obese on the government dole). Tell me how America’s politicians aren’t corrupt!

Road Scholar

March 29th, 2010
8:58 am

vracer and scout: Granny and I are still waiting…

Granny: Good morning. Hope your weekend was enjoyable. President Obama also required/asked Karzai to have all his ministers attend the meeting to discuss the issue. I don’t know who else attended though.

While off subject , “Legislative leaders voted in 2006 to raise the amount lawmakers get to cover meals, lodging and other expenses from $128 to $173 per day. So each of the 236 lawmakers — from both parties — can collect an extra $1,800 each 40-day session in expense money.”

Under the new ethics language alledgedly moving forward, lawmakers can still accept meals and gifts from lobbyists. With a per deim of $173, why? I realize this also covers renting somewhere to stay. They should forfeit their per deim if they accept anything. No gifts, no fraud, no influence, no problem!

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:58 am

joan, i realize that this “foisting on the American people” meme is popular among the right, but I seem to remember that Obama campaigned on health care reform. Then he got elected. Then he did what he said he would do. How is that “foisting on the American people”?

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
8:59 am

No, Scout, I’ve never been an investigative journalist. But, if your definition of corruption is “telling lies,” then the Bush/Cheney regime was one of the most corrupt in American history.

SouthernGal

March 29th, 2010
9:02 am

I wonder why the US even bothers to help the Iraqis and Afghans…until they want to change their way of life we are wasting our time over there.

It is time to bring our boys and girls home….let them deal with their own problems.

Madison

March 29th, 2010
9:06 am

Hey Cindy, When are we going to have a column about John Lewis lying about being called the N-word? Never, I bet.

dw

March 29th, 2010
9:07 am

Cynthia,

You’re “projecting”.

T-Town

March 29th, 2010
9:08 am

Ms. Tucker, with your last 2 comments your liberal slip is showing. Both parties seemed to be in the “your party is more corrupt than our party” theme. If corruption is leaving a bad taste in all of our mouths, why are we dealing with Karzi?

david wayne osedach

March 29th, 2010
9:08 am

Obama’s visit was a good morale builder for the troops.

Granny Godzilla

March 29th, 2010
9:10 am

Madison

Got Breitbart?

Try penicillin.

Madison

March 29th, 2010
9:11 am

Hey Granny, you old drunk, how is the head this mormning?

martin

March 29th, 2010
9:13 am

Afghanistan is getting messy, maybe we ought to pull out. In a religious sense, I do not believe God helps those who help themselves; but in a practical sense, I believe it to be true, the US can only do so much to prop up a gov’t. If the entity being helped doesn’t take steps to help themselves, they won’t get better. No matter how much help the US or any major country injects troops, funds, ect. Not trying to start a theological debate….just stating Afghanistan needs to help itself too.

kayaker 71

March 29th, 2010
9:13 am

Ms. Tucker,

How are we going to pay for this? As each of the “entitled” gets what the politicians think they want, the entitlement roles grow and the debt becomes unmanageable. Look at California and nearly 40 other states in this country that probably won’t meet their budgets this year. The MA model of health care is what we have a present, with a few more frills. It is projected, if nothing changes in MA that, in 4 years, MA will be broke too. Project that onto the national scene and we see a country that is struggling under trillions of dollars of debt, only to have more debt mandated to the states that they already can’t pay for. Forget the warm fuzzy edict that health care is an “entitlement” and the right of all Americans to possess, and think about this “right” is going to push us into the greatest debt service this country has ever known. Our interest payments on our debts to the Chinese and the Japanese is already at 700 BILLION dollars/yr and growing. When you run out of “rich people” to tax, what is next? The Value Added Tax that is pervasive all over Western Europe, where the taxpayer is ordered to pay up to 30% of his yearly income, in addition to regular income tax, to fund these fiascos. The VAT is a favorite tool of socialist governments used to fund their universal mandates. “No new taxes on anyone making less than 250K/yr….. not one thin dime.” And you still believe this clown?

pat

March 29th, 2010
9:13 am

Right and wrong are easy tenants to understand and apply. Fighting a war not sufficiently resourced prolongs the war and ultimately leads to more blood shed. War sucks. The most humane way to fight a war is to decisively end it as quickly as possible. If you fight in a compromised fashion, and you had the means to do otherwise that would be morally wrong.
Leaving the region to a tyrannical regime who has proven that they will attack and kill with out provocation is a solution sullied in blood. Prolonging a seemingly endless conflict by going tit-for-tat is another, blood soaked solution. Decisively crushing the taliban / al qaeda as quickly as possible is the right thing to do. It is the scenario with the lowest military and civilian casualties.
You never do a war half-assed. If your not going to do it right, don’t do it.

martin

March 29th, 2010
9:16 am

Last time I checked, C Tucker is an opinion writer. She’s only writing what her world view is. I’d think it be better to point the attacks at the ideology, not the person.

Granny Godzilla

March 29th, 2010
9:17 am

Madison

And a lovely good morning to you as well.

Are you not a morning person?

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
9:18 am

Thanks, Martin, for that injection of reason.

Madison

March 29th, 2010
9:19 am

Granny, I’m a morning person and unlike you I wake up with a clear head. You need to start putting the cork back in the bottle earlier.

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
9:20 am

T-Town, I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m liberal. I’m proud of that. This is, after all, an opinion site

ctucker

March 29th, 2010
9:20 am

Madison, Who said Lewis is “lying?”

jconservative

March 29th, 2010
9:21 am

“…foisting on the American people…”

Cynthia is correct on this one. The thought that most Americans do not want health care reform is silly. No one has ever cared what the American “people” want. We only care about what “American Voters” think. We have been this way since 1775. Remember the Declaration of Independence was “foisted” on the colonys by a minority.

Most American Voters wanted Obama as President in spite of, or maybe because of, his promise to “reform health care”. And since the health care bill received majorities in both the Senate and House it is obvious that most American Voters wanted it passed.

Unless, of course, some of you folks are calling for governing by opinion polls, an idea that does have some merit. It has merit but I have not seen a groundswell for the idea. In fact, we have always held in distain those whom we believe govern by polls.

Look guys get into the real world. Here in the USA we have created a socialist type society over the past 75 years. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare Part D & mandatory ER care have all led to “cradle to grave” government care. And soon we will change the laws and it will be “conception to grave” government care.

“And that’s the way it is….” (My apologies to Walter)

Scout

March 29th, 2010
9:21 am

Ms. Tucker:

corrupt: adjective
1.guilty of dishonest practices

1) I thought we were talking about Obama? However, I am neither Democrat or Republican. I am a conservative and call ‘em like I see ‘em. Bush/Cheney failed in many areas but nothing compared to what I see in Obama and his administration in just one year. It’s the type of people he has made czars, etc. that really disturb me.

2) If the mainstream media spent just a 10th of the time investigating Obama as they did/do conservatives (i.e., the Plalin Alaska thing) he would not be president. The double standard is pathetic.

3) Why do you not allow article attachments to your threads? Bookman ande Barr do and most of the time it is very intructive and useful?

4) In any case, look up “Five Lies in Two Minutes” on the internet from an “uncut” Obama speech. It’s mindboggling ………………..

Off to do “honey-do” list stuff ………………

Scout

March 29th, 2010
9:25 am

P.S. to Ms. Tucker:

Opinion without a factual basis is what is destroying our form of government. One must “investigate” to have a decent factual opinion. Therefore, if you are not a fair, impartial, unbiased “investigative reporter/editorialist” (at least in concept) then your opinion editorials are so biased as to be mostly fiction.

Madison

March 29th, 2010
9:29 am

ctucker @9:20. Do you have proof he didn’t?

T-Bone

March 29th, 2010
9:29 am

I thought Obama was out to make the rest of the world love the USA after that daft cowboy Bush. He chastises the Isreali PM and demands that Karzai clean up his act but continues to play games with Iran while they continue to enrich uranium. The Chinese and Russians smell weakness like a shark circling an injured seal. Of course Obama’s tactics are perfectly fine because he’s passing much needed social programs modeled on other failed social that will ultimately seal the fate of this country. No disingenuousness here.

Sorry I ruined your black panther party

March 29th, 2010
9:30 am

“President Obama went to Afghanistan to warn President Hamid Karzai to clean up the corruption in his government. But Obama knows perfectly well that Karzai will continue to be corrupt.”

LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s make that statement a little more truthful.

But Karzai knows perfectly well that Obama will continue to be corrupt.”

Sorry I ruined your black panther party

March 29th, 2010
9:31 am

Scout

Ms. Tucker admitted, her words, that she isn’t in the “honesty” game. Only the “opinion” game.

martin

March 29th, 2010
9:32 am

C. Tucker, you’re welcome…I try to inject reason. My world view in many points is totally opposite of you but it’s not worth name calling. I’d rather argue over the ideology than insult a person, just not cool.

kayaker 71

March 29th, 2010
9:32 am

Ms. Tucker,

Since this is an “opinion” page, give me an opinion on my 9:13. And, please, be honest.

T-Town

March 29th, 2010
9:32 am

Ms. Tucker, your being liberal is not the issue. You have made it quite clear that you didn’t like the prior administration and believe them to be corrupt. If corruption leaves a bad taste in your mouth why not blast Obama for even attempting to deal with a corrupt government. Please don’t tell me he has to because we are fighting a war there, history shows us this didn’t work before.

Sorry I ruined your black panther party

March 29th, 2010
9:33 am

“Please give your definition of “corrupt” and then give an instance of Obama demonstrating that quality”

SWEEEEEEEET!!!!!!!

1: Bribing members of congress to vote for his health care bill.
2: Appointing people to positions without allowing an up or down vote.
3: Taking over private companies.

I can keep on going MSSSSSSSSSSSSS Tucker.