Gates Sheds New Light on Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

My last post noted how the blockbuster memoir by Robert M. Gates reinforces the points many observers have made about the defects of the Obama administration’s national security process.  The revelations also bolster my own argument that President Obama and his team share a good deal of the responsibility for the ongoing crisis in relations between Washington and Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul.  The discord goes far in explaining Karzai’s current posture of defiance that has led him to put on hold a long-term security agreement with Washington and release dozens of prisoners that U.S. officials claim are dangerous Taliban insurgents.

To be sure, Karzai is a miserable war-time ally.  Erratic and immanently suspicious, he regularly uses the foreign governments propping up his regime as convenient scapegoats for his own numerous failings.  To cite but one example among his many egregious antics: His excoriations of Washington were so vehement last spring that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan worried they would stoke attacks on Western troops by rogue Afghan soldiers or even prompt assaults on NATO installations by Afghan army units.

Nonetheless, as Gates’s account illustrates, the Obama administration’s bumblings have made a bad situation much worse. Continue reading