Posted by: cousindampier | 2 April 2010

More on Foreign Policy and Self-Interest

Most of the time, Friedman’s articles are skim-worthy. This editorial on Karzai as a strategic partner is worth the full read, because he makes three key points in it.

The one standing out is the second: never want it more than they do. America’s interest is in establishing a functional state in Afghanistan. We’ve spent too much money, lost too many lives, forgone too many other opportunities to focus on this country. Friedman’s counterpoint is in the number of times American diplomats have spoken softly and used the stick, and how little either has worked.

There are two issues here: the majority of the population and Karzai. The majority of the population, presumably, wants good governance and security. That is something American goals are compatible with. Karzai is the sticking point. While we can’t want it more than he can, the position both America and Karzai find themselves in now can be pointed to a distinct lack of leadership on the part of the Americans. Providing the funding, security, organization, international capital, &tc for Karzai, and the position Obama finds himself in is seeing Ahmadinejad give an anti-American tirade while Karzai sits idly by.

Karzai may want it just as bad as America, but in a very different way – so point 2A should be, “Make them want it in the same way you do.”

Of course, that opens up a whole other set of issues.


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