Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mideast Groundhog Day

Hamid Karzai is in Washington this week for another round of coddling an "ally" in the War of Terror who is conning us out of lives and money to preserve a shaky, corrupt regime.

Afghanistan's Caped Crusader will try to talk the Obama Administration out of diluting his stranglehold on the country by its emphasis on "empowering those at the provincial and district level," as a US official tactfully puts it.

Karzai, the Washington Post reports, has "bristled at suggestions...that one of the operation's major goals should be to dilute the influence of his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is one of the most powerful figures in the city and is seen by many Afghans as corrupt."

This Groundhog Day scene was unreeled many times in the Bush years as Pervez Musharraf sweet-talked us about what Karzai now calls "a matured relationship" between partners who "have joined hands to bring security to Afghanistan and by extension to the United States and the rest of the world" and went his own crooked way.

Musharraf is gone, Nuri al-Maliki is tap-dancing in Iraq amid renewed violence after failing to win an election, and now their Afghan counterpart is being fobbed off in a photo op with a President who clearly mistrusts him before what Maureen Dowd describes as "a private dinner at the home of Vice President Biden, who once stalked out of a Karzai supper at the palace in Kabul when the Afghan president claimed there was no corruption, and got furious again last month when Karzai said he would join the Taliban if foreign interference continued. (Translation: Stop upbraiding me, Obama, you’re stuck with me.)"

Are we? When the President made his agonizing decision for a surge in Afghanistan late last year, doubters described it as being like "an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special-needs baby from a family that deals drugs and rear it in a neighborhood where the kids steal each others' lunch money."

The White House may want to take another look at the American couple who recently sent back an unmanageable Russian kid they adopted. If not, it will keep on being Groundhog Day in Washington for a long time to come.

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