For a man derided as the "Mayor of Kabul," President Hamid Karzai is quite the G. His cousin, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is out there grinding with an intensity that would put even champion trap stars like Young Jeezy or The Clipse to shame (although I suspect that Alex of i-Con might disagree with me on The Clipse). Then he threatened to join the Taliban when the West told him that he would have to slow his roll. Now, Karzai is boasting that he gets "bags of money" from Iran. I'm not sure what's next--perhaps an 1990's Shiny Suit rap-style video featuring Diddy, Ma$e as well as Kat Stacks dancing on the hood of a Maybach.
In any event, as Robert Haddick observes that Karzai is attempting to undermine the United States counterinsurgency strategy, preserve his own power, and shift the war's endgame. Furthermore, none of these behaviors were necessarily all that new. Karzai has been a G for quite a while.
In an article for World Affairs Journal, Steven Metz explains why:
In protecting [Cold War-era] dictators and using them as regional proxies, Washington was not concerned with the retention of power by a particular individual or group, but with the construction of stable, sustainable economic and political systems. Americans believed that, over the long term, only open governance, market economies, and the rule of law would lead to stability and limit the anger and frustration that Communists exploited. Thus the United States pushed its clients toward controlled economic and political reform. The authoritarian governments that received U.S. backing saw things differently. Their objective was retaining power and maintaining access to congressional aid packages. They resolutely resisted policies that might undermine their power, often including the very economic and political changes that the United States tried to promote. Reform was a threat, not a goal. The partners might, under pressure, make limited or token changes to keep Washington sweet, but only so long as they left intact the political and economic systems that rewarded them so generously.
The new post-Cold War threat environment features a similar arrangement, Metz explains, this time based on a more stringent arrangement: the dictator or supremo in question must not only reform but exercise complete control over his territory and reform enough to remove grievances that would produce violent Islamist terrorism or insurgency. But this is beyond the ability, inclination, and legal and organizational culture of many of the states we partner with. So as Metz points out, are we going to continue our dependence on strategies that require such unrealistic relationships?
Meanwhile, Karzai will continue to get bags of money from Tehran.