'Puppet' Show

Afghanistan Calls America's Bluff

"Puppets just aren't what they used to be," according to The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, who filed her column from Kirkuk, Iraq, on Sunday. Dowd says Afghan president Hamid Karzai and other leaders are calling America's bluff. “For another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources," Karzai said. The U.S. will have to teach people to read and write before Afghans can establish security forces and the rule of law, Dowd writes. In Iraq, things weren't any better for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was stood up for a meeting with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Thursday. Gates remains optimistic, though. He told Dowd, “Anybody who reads history has to approach these things with some humility because you can’t know. Nobody knows what the last chapter ever looks like.”