And so, after eight long years, we have come to this inglorious pass. When we first went to Afghanistan, that distant land where Empires go to find their limits, we were going for vengeance and protection, our own. It was easy to explain that we were going after those who had hurt us, to avenge our losses and ensure that they could never do so again (the word "never" is far too easy to use). Then, as time passed, we were going as liberators, to save the women forced to wear burkhas, the people trapped in an ideological prison so constrictive that it choked the life out of their ancient cultures. And now, at the end, we are going for Karzai. The President of Afghanistan has too much of a hold on the government and on the electoral process to be replaced, too much for him to be challenged in a fair election. Those elements that should be fighting him on the floor of Parliament are instead fighting him in the hills and mountains.
Karzai is not the leader Afghanistan needs. He has not demonstrated the ability to inspire his people, to weld them together. He has adamantly refused to fight the corruption that is slowly rotting away his country from within, and barely even stops to wipe up the occasional eruption of maggots from still-living skin. He is impotent, the leader of an army of a hundred thousand men, whom analysts believe will be swept out of office by less then ten thousand Taliban without the help of thousands of foreign troops.
We entered, as we are wont to do, into a civil war without realizing it. We blundered into the confused relations of the Pashtuns, the Tajiks, the Hazaras, and the thousands of other racial, religious, and historical groups whose intertwined cultures and patchwork lands make up the quilt that we attempt to quantify by calling it Afghanistan, and attempted to weave from it a cloth of a single color. Instead we have simply created a new tribe, the tribe of Karzai, for which we are sending men and women to fight and die for. We have grown better at fighting the enemy, but we are increasingly fighting for the benefit of a government that has shown no ability to serve the people who elected it, or even to hang on to the hard won gains.
The tribe of Karzai doesn't deserve wealth and triumph on the back of our soldiers. We need to either curb his excesses, get out, or prepare for a long, hard slog to a distant uncertain victory.