America and the Dictators
Over the past several years, when he complained again and again about American attacks in his country that were killing civilians in surprising numbers and remarkably often, he was generally humored and dealt with as an irrelevance or an annoyance. Now, given the rampant drug trade, the corruption, the “tantrums,” the emotional outbursts, the threats to join the Taliban, and his embracing of the Iranians and the Chinese, he is dealt with in Washington as a cross between a big baby, an unstable adult, an overemotional drug-taker, and a prime danger to the American project in Afghanistan. He was given a lot of TLC by the previous resident of the White House, while being studiously ignored or reproved by this one. American officials have lavished praise – and scorn – on him. They have brandished hard power – and laid on the soft power – to tame him. They have regularly tried “new tacks” in dealing with him, and then tacked – and tacked again. I’m talking, of course, about Hamid Karzai, the American-installed president of Afghanistan, our man in Kabul, as Alfred McCoy so aptly dubs him. He’s our boy, our nemesis, the definition of our problem in Afghanistan, our worst mistake, and our missing conscience all wrapped in one.