Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC) announced today that he was “stunned” by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s calls to scale back the nearly decade long US war in Afghanistan and to have the troops reduce their intrusiveness into daily Afghan life.
“This didn’t come up at all,” insisted Graham, who recently met with Karzai, “we had a great meeting.” Graham added that during the meeting they openly talked about “having two air bases in a permanent fashion in Afghanistan” and that Karzai provided no indication that he had any problem with that either.
The difference seems to reflect what has long been a strained relationship between Karzai and the US government, with President Karzai playing the gracious host in public meetings with US officials but then positioning himself as far more war-weary and less tolerant of massive civilian deaths in public comments.
In this case Karzai’s statement may reflect a perceived change in US policy coming, as his calls appear to have reflected in at least some measure those made in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) report on Afghanistan, which also advised scaling back the war effort.
This has also led to questions about where the Afghan president really stands on these issues, but this may be a moot point at any rate. After all, when US officials debate how much longer to remain an occupying power in Afghanistan it seems the wishes of the neither the Afghan public nor the Afghan government are given serious consideration.