US Looks to Bypass Karzai in Running Afghanistan

Holbrooke Advocates 'High Representative' Initiative

by Jason Ditz, November 30, 2009

In a move being forwarded primarily by US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, the United States is seeking to have an international “high representative” appointed to control day-to-day operations of the Afghan government.

Richard Holbrooke

The position looks to be an analogue of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, though the position at this point looks to have a more ambitious amount of control over the domestic operation of the Afghan state, effectively reducing the power of President Hamid Karzai.

America’s European allies are reportedly expressing concerns over the plan, while conceding that an internationally appointed leader probably would be more efficient. Still, the exit strategy is built on the assumption of letting the Afghan government eventually establish more control over the nation, while the US plan looks to drain even more legitimacy from the Karzai government.

European officials see the move as an attempt to place an American closer to running day to day operations as well, citing the ouster of former US ambassador Peter Galbraith from the United Nations mission. If the UN mission won’t have an American in a key position, such a position may be created out of wholecloth.

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