Clinton doesn’t blame Karzai for confusion over U.S. policy

December 3, 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seen by many as the Obama administration’s “good cop” when it comes to dealing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leaving others to point fingers at his government over corruption, election fraud and other issues. AFGHANISTAN-USA/

On Thursday, she continued to show empathy for the embattled Afghan leader, telling senators she understood why Karzai was so confused about U.S. policy towards his war-torn country.

At a hearing on the new strategy in Afghanistan, which some say is doomed because of the weak Afghan government, Clinton said she didn’t blame anyone — least of all Karzai — for questioning past U.S. intentions.

“I don’t blame anybody for wondering where we are because of the history we inherited and our effort to frankly make sense and rationalize what was happening and to put it into an integrated military strategy,” Clinton said.

Last month, Clinton attended Karzai’s inauguration ceremony in Kabul and had many positive things to say about the re-elected leader, who has had a prickly relationship with the special representative to the region, diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

AFGHANISTAN/“One of the first things President Karzai said to me when I saw him in Kabul was: ‘I am confused’,” Clinton recalled.

She said Karzai had a clear idea about what he needed to do after the Sept. 11 attacks until about 2005 but he started getting mixed messages after that.

“So there has been some confusion which frankly this administration has been trying to sort through. We think we have got it about as right as we can get it given where we started from.”

Clinton is off to Brussels later today to sell the Obama administration’s new Afghan strategy to Europeans. Wonder if they have been confused too?

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Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton (Clinton listens as Obama unveils Afghan strategy at West Point), Reuters/pool (Karzai speaks with Clinton in Kabul)

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