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The Emerging Afghanistan Strategy

In a long piece for the NYT, Dexter Filkins writes that the US is done propping up the mayor of Kabul:

The world has changed for Mr. Karzai, and for Afghanistan, too. A White House favorite — a celebrity in flowing cape and dark gray fez — in each of the seven years that he has led this country since the fall of the Taliban, Mr. Karzai now finds himself not so favored at all. Not by Washington, and not by his own.

In the White House, President Obama said he regarded Mr. Karzai as unreliable and ineffective. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said he presided over a “narco-state.” The Americans making Afghan policy, worried that the war is being lost, are vowing to bypass Mr. Karzai and deal directly with the governors in the countryside.

At the same time as Karzai finds himself out of favour, NATO is facing a difficult situation over its high commander, General Bantz John Craddock. The German weekly SPIEGEL has reported on an order of his to kill drug traffickers, which was refused by German general Egon Ramms, head of the Afghanistan command centre, and the American Afghanistan command general David McKiernan.

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The "Cabal" That Prevents a Counterdrug Program in Afghanistan

Why is Afghanistan a narco-state? Ambassador Thomas Schweich left the State Department in June and is now at liberty to identify the "cabal":

An odd cabal of timorous Europeans, myopic media outlets, corrupt Afghans, blinkered Pentagon officers, politically motivated Democrats and the Taliban were preventing the implementation of an effective counterdrug program. And the rest of us could not turn them around.

Wow, what a cabal! Only Sean Penn is missing in that list of usual suspects.

Thomas Schweich used to be the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and pressed hard for aerial eradication to wipe out the poppy production in Afghanistan. He considers eradication "an essential component of successful anti-poppy efforts in Guatemala, Southeast Asia and Pakistan."

His 5,500 words long essay in the New York Times Magazine describes in great detail his frustration with the widespread opposition to aerial eradication. The essay's title is "Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?" but deals mainly with the many disagreements within the US government (and with NATO allies).

Schweich blames mainly the Pentagon for lack of understanding and the British military for lack of loyalty:

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