This week’s release of Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars is expected to fuel a lot of discussion on a lot of different topics, but perhaps none moreso than Afghanistan, and the wisdom of continuing to back Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
One of the first topics to come out of the book’s pre-release excerpts was a claim by US intelligence officials that Karzai had been secretly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was receiving not-entirely-successful treatment.
But it doesn’t end there, as CIA officials have branded Karzai as “paranoid and depressed” and other reports have described him as a pill-popper, a regular user of marijuana, and increasingly erratic.
Questions about Karzai have been flying around since April, when he threatened to withdraw from the Afghan governemnt and join the Taliban. At the time former US envoy Peter Galbraith implied that Karzai was an opium addict.
But Galbraith is still talking, with his latest comments urging the US to “rethink” its policy of working with Karzai, declaring “he’s ineffective, illegitimate and weird.” Yet Karzai’s corruption has not just made him a lot of enemies, it has strengthened his influence over key parts of the government, and it may not be so easy for the US to cast him off, particularly less than a year after shrugging off the massive fraud in his last election and declaring him the “legitimate” ruler of Afghanistan.