Stage Two

What Karzai Means for U.S. Troops

Now that the Afghan presidential elections have been settled, the Obama administration must face what a Karzai victory means for its troop decision. General Stanley McChrystal's request for 44,000 more troops to Afghanistan in a strategy of broad counterterrorism is being met with caution by administration officials who doubt Karzai's ability to govern legitimately. Karzai's record is marred with corruption, and he has crossed administration officials in the past. U.S. leaders who fear that Karzai can't be trusted endorse a narrower counterinsurgency, one that focuses on al Qaeda and a reduced threat to American lives by maintaining the current troop levels. The Washington Post reports that "Biden and other Obama advisers believe the relationship that Bush developed with Karzai masked the Afghan leader's flaws and made it difficult to demand accountability."