Afghanistan Just Got Messier

The mess that is Afghanistan just got messier for Washington.

Abdullah's withdrawal from the presidential runoff leaves Hamid Karzai in power but without legitimacy.

He's widely perceived to have rigged the last election, and Abdullah
took himself out, he says, because he couldn't be assured that Kazai
wouldn't do it again.

And then they cancelled the election with only Karzai in it, citing
security and cost reasons. But maybe they didn't want to deal with the
embarrassment of Karzai running unopposed, or the even deeper
humiliation of a tiny turnout.

As a result, though, Karzai has become further delegitimized.

He was already in the soup. People in Afghanistan recognize that
he's corrupt. And Malalai Joya, the outspoken feminist who was booted
from parliament, has been denouncing him for years now for surrounding
himself with drug lords and warlords and war criminals. Even his own
brother is involved in the drug trade.

In Afghanistan, Joya says, Karzai is seen, correctly, as a
Washington stooge. And we're seen there, correctly, as an occupying
power.

We've been down this road before.

In Vietnam, the United States propped up one illegitimate leader
after another, but that didn't help the war effort at all. It only
further alienated the people of Vietnam.

We're seeing the same thing happening in Afghanistan right now.

Karzai is our guy in Kabul, but that's about it. Many if not most
people in Afghanistan disdain him. And the more he plays ball with
Washington, the less support he has at home.

The United States can't defeat an insurgency by backing an illegitimate government.

And the United States can't defeat an insurgency when the American people are already opposed to the war.

Obama needs to realize all this, reverse course, and head for the exits, before he makes matters even worse.

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