Khalilzad Might be Undermining the U.S. President, Too

by Joshua Foust on 5/20/2009

Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung report that the reported talks Zalmay Khalilzad was having with Hamid Karzai were not sponsored by the Obama administration, and in fact most (though none on the record) seem happy with the development.

This is interesting: given the points they make about the advantages to Karzai of having a U.S. insider on his staff (something I’m still not convinced would be counterbalanced by his deep dislike and mistrust of the man), my initial impression of Khalilzad as mad with power-lust seems likely. It also helps to explain why anonymous U.S. officials would leak this information, and why Afghan officials would be so eager to deny them.

This new information does three things: it makes Karzai look desperate; it makes Khalilzad look downright Machiavellian; and it makes the Obama administration look listless on the whole “Af-Pak” thing. Either way, a man of Khalilzad’s connections, clearances, and stature (like it or not, he is very highly placed within policy circles) has no business setting up insane deals like this.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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