Former deputy special representative of the United Nations in Afghanistan Peter Galbraith went on MSNBC this morning, apparently interrupting the nice polite political banter on the network's morning show with Chuck Todd.
The majority of the attention devoted to this clip will no doubt be about Mr. Galbraith's assertion that President Karzai uses heroin.
That allegation aside, Galbraith asks a lot of good questions about Afghanistan. Do we really have leverage? Is our counterinsurgency strategy achievable with Karzai as President? Is Karzai mentally stable? (Cool-headed President Obama certainly doesn't appreciate his outbursts.)
At the end of the interview, Galbraith says there is a serious question as to whether President Obama's May 12 meeting with Karzai in Washington should go as planned. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed the notion, suggesting that the meeting could be cancelled if Karzai continues his verbal attacks against the U.S.
Update: Fred Kaplan perfectly sums up the U.S. relationship with President Karzai:
It's like the old joke: If you owe the bank $1 million, the bank owns you; if you owe the bank $1 billion, you own the bank. We're the bank, and Karzai's the one in unfathomably deep debt, but he's calculating that we won't foreclose precisely because of this relationship (a politico-military equivalent of "too big to fail"), and he's probably right.
I'm interested to know--given that nuances sometimes get lost in translation or context--how Karzai's outbursts translate from Pashto. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Though Karzai allegedly prefers heroin, I am addicted to Twitter--follow me at luke_johnson. You can subscribe to all of my columns at the top of the page via e-mail.