Relations sink further as Hamid Karzai accused of drug abuse

The war of words between the former deputy head of the UN mission to Afghanistan and the country's president escalated last night when Peter Galbraith suggested that Hamid Karzai's "mental stability" was in question and that he has a substance abuse problem.

Galbraith, the US diplomat who worked for the UN in Kabul until last year, made his remarks live on US television. His comments come as the White House considers withdrawing an invitation for Karzai to meet Barack Obama in Washington next month.
This is a very serious allegation, and very disturbing if true, given that our soldiers are risking themselves for him as much as for us. I hope there will be a proper and adequate denial of this. If not then this will be a bit tricky, who would replace him?
Perhaps the guy,who came second at the election,might make a start,if Karzai is pushed out(fat chance)?
From The Majlis Peter Galbraith : 2010 :: Matthew Hoh : 2009 by Gregg Carlstrom
Peter Galbraith is a stunningly corrupt and currently unemployed ex-diplomat who maintained a hidden multi-million dollar financial interest in Iraqi Kurdistan while he was helping to draft the Iraqi constitution. More recently, he spent maybe four months as the United Nations' deputy special representative to Afghanistan; he was forced out in September, and for that he (justifiably) maintains a grudge against Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

You'd know none of this from the media attention Galbraith is getting, though, since he's universally presented as an authoritative and moral voice.
Peter Galbraith

First he appeared on MSNBC and made a completely unsubstantiated claim that Karzai has a drug problem. That assertion has been repeated in more newspapers than I can count, and is now being treated almost as official administration policy, to the point where the State Department had to publicly refute it yesterday.

Galbraith, needless to say, has not offered a shred of evidence to support his claim.

And today Galbraith has an op-ed in the Washington Post, which has the gall to ding Hamid Karzai for corruption. It also hints at the drug issue again: Galbraith quotes Abdullah Abdullah (an ophthalmologist, though Galbraith identifies him only as a doctor) as saying Karzai's behavior is "not normal." (More substantively, Galbraith seems to blame Karzai for all of Afghanistan's corruption and ineffective governance, which is horribly unfair.)

The irony here is that there's some fundamental truth to Galbraith's criticism. Hamid Karzai is a terrible local partner. But it's time for Galbraith's 15 minutes of fame to end. He has no particular expertise about Afghanistan; he has no official role; his personal history with Karzai disqualifies him as an objective observer; and much of his writing and commentary about Afghanistan betrays a poor understanding of that country's recent history.

Oh, and he has absolutely no right to criticize anyone for corruption.
The very reliable Reidar Visser also has a pop at Galbraith here. Still I feel is somewhat unfair on Galbraith, a man who is plainly not the pot calling the kettle black.

Galbraith is a good friend to the Kurdish people. He was instrumental in the sanctions regime after imposed after “al-anfal” in the 80s and has been involved ever since.

His advocacy for the madcap invasion of Iraq does seem to have been motivated by a very moral concern for human rights and dewy eyed dreams of Kurdish self determination. He's been passionately pro-Kurdish separatism since Baghdad fell, rushing in early enough to be distressed by the looting. He immediately started trying to shape Iraqi law that would secure the Kirkuk field. Such oil deals would greatly facilitate eventual Kurdish secession from Iraq.

I suspect wetting your beak to some measure would be essential in such a role. A middle man who did not would arose great suspicion in corrupt morass of Iraqi politics and would simply not be trusted. I've not seen rock solid proof of even that sort of pragmatism in this case.

I only have one quibble with Peter: even with Joe "Sykes-Picot II" Bidden slouching round the Whitehouse this giddy dream is not DCs policy. It would probably be disastrous event that could lead to a bloody full blown Iraqi civil war. Israel likes the idea and that's partly because the Kurds would be a distracting target for Arab anger, the only other regional power that's at all supportive is devious Qom which should raise a host of red flags. It would be opposed by Sunni Arab states and would likely end in a Turkish invasion. No Kurdish state in history has lasted longer than a few years. Former ambassadors might be expected to consider their own countries interests first.

He's that most dangerous of creatures: a well intentioned Wilsonian liberal rather than a carpetbagger. Despite his erratic behavior of late I do not believe that he has a certain fondness for some of Iraq's most profitable exports or question his mental stability.
On FP This Week at War: Learning to Love Crazy Karzai

What the four-stars are reading -- a weekly column from Small Wars Journal.

Great news -- Karzai is acting crazy

In last week's column, I discussed an anti-American outburst Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently delivered to lunch guests at his palace. After a phone call to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to smooth things over, Karzai almost immediately opened fire again, renewing his complaints about Western interference in Afghanistan's affairs. This tirade concluded with a threat to join the Taliban if foreign interference did not stop. The colorful Peter Galbraith, the former deputy U.N. envoy to Afghanistan (who was fired from that position for his open quarrels with Karzai and his boss) questioned Karzai's "mental stability" and hinted Karzai might be under the influence of drugs. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley dismissed Galbraith's claim and again attempted to get relations with Karzai back on track. But we should not be surprised by another eruption from the Afghan president.

U.S. officials should be pleased that Karzai is rebranding himself as an anti-Western nationalist. Successful counterinsurgency requires a local partner who is legitimate and credible with the indigenous population. If Karzai has concluded that this attempt at rebranding is necessary to increase his legitimacy, especially among Pashtuns, the U.S. government should not object.

Obviously a rebranded Karzai is insufficient for success. The numerous shortcomings of Karzai and the central government in Kabul will not be repaired by this ploy. More troubling is the collateral damage Karzai's attempt at rebranding could inflict. The president's new hostility could damage the morale of U.S. soldiers, who will wonder why they should risk their lives for an erratic America-basher. Karzai's revised marketing strategy could also spoil U.S. political support for the military campaign and boost the Taliban's recruiting.

But there is more to Karzai's rebranding than boosting the current counterinsurgency campaign. He also has to start making plans for how to get by in a post-American Afghanistan. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both pledged an enduring U.S. commitment to Afghanistan and stated that the U.S. withdrawal, scheduled to begin in July 2011, will be gradual and "conditions-based," Karzai needs to take such promises lightly. More imminent is the Obama team's December 2010 re-evaluation of its strategy, after which Obama could scrap the current plan, should he conclude the assumptions and expectations from last year's exhaustive policy review are not being met.

Rather than merely waiting to be the victim of Obama's timetable, and already knowing that the United States is on its way out, Karzai may have decided to seize the initiative for himself and establish his own timetable for a transition to whatever will come after the United States and NATO withdraw. Establishing himself as independent from the United States will be essential if he is to attract a new great-power patron.

If Karzai's anti-Western shift accelerates this process, U.S. officials again should not despair. Obama's decision last December to multiply the commitment of American prestige left no path for a graceful escape. Karzai's calculated outbursts could open up that means of escape, which Obama should be grateful to have
From Time Afghanistan: Why Karzai Is Pushing Back Against the U.S. By Tony Karon
Karzai also knows that the U.S. commitment in his country is finite, and the need to survive after the Americans leave makes him more inclined to rely on such established hard men as Uzbek warlord General Rashid Dostum and Tajik strongman General Mohammed Fahim — even if that means turning a blind eye to their transgressions. He is also keen to take charge of negotiating a political settlement with the Taliban on his own timetable, and with less of a role for Pakistan than Washington might be ready to concede to Islamabad. Just as U.S. influence in Iraq declined precipitously once its intention to withdraw became clear, so is Karzai's game plan premised on getting along without the U.S., even though he'll do his best to keep it there as long as possible. That means going through the motions of satisfying U.S. demands on corruption and reform, without alienating the hard men on whose support he may depend once the Americans leave.

It's a common mistake for great powers to assume that those whom they engage as proxies to fight their battles or run their satrapies share the same agenda as their patrons just because their interests coincide at a given moment. But not all of Karzai's enemies in the region are America's enemies, and not all of America's allies are Karzai's allies. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Pakistan, the original patron of the Taliban, which has also been going through the motions of indulging American concerns while continuing to enable the Afghan Taliban insurgency and identifying Karzai as an adversary because of his regime's close ties with India.

Like Pakistan over the past eight years, Karzai has been biding his time, positioning himself for the battles and power shifts that will come when the Americans leave, his goal — like Islamabad's — being to protect his power. And the arrival in Washington of the Obama Administration signaled the onset of the endgame. Driven by a desire to conclude America's fiscally burdensome wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and alarmed by the downward security spiral in Afghanistan, the Obama Administration put Karzai on notice that failure to tackle the corruption that was deemed to be fueling the insurgency would jeopardize his ties with Washington. And in the weeks leading up to last August's election, U.S. officials in Afghanistan were widely perceived to be backing rival candidates. Karzai has also noted that key U.S. officials like special envoy Richard Holbrooke have spoken frankly about giving Pakistan a greater role in shaping the political outcome in Afghanistan.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in the endgame, Karzai has revealed an agenda quite distinct from that of Washington — just as Pakistan has done. The premise of the U.S. policy, after all — just like that of the Pakistanis, Karzai, the Taliban and every other player in the game — is that sooner or later, the Americans will leave. And it's that reality, now more than ever, that is shaping everyone's game.

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