A recent Central Intelligence Agency assessment found that the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had been significantly weakened by rising popular frustration with his American-backed government, American officials say.
The assessment found that Mr. Karzai’s government and security forces continued to struggle to exert authority beyond Kabul, said a senior American official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The assessment also found that increasing numbers of Afghans viewed Mr. Karzai’s government as corrupt, failing to deliver promised reconstruction and too weak to protect the country from rising Taliban attacks.
“The ability to project out into the countryside, perceptions of corruption in the government,” said the official, listing Afghan complaints. “The failure to deliver the services.”
As Iraq has weakened us, so has it strengthened our enemies in Afghanistan:
A sharp increase in suicide attacks and roadside bombings over the past two years has persuaded many Afghans that security has sharply deteriorated under Mr. Karzai. The tactics appear to have migrated from Iraq, according to the official, probably via the Internet and people traveling between the countries.
“There’s not been a tradition of the suicide bombers,” the official said. “Psychologically, this has had a major impact.”
It is long past time for a major renewal of our reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Unfortunately that hardly seems possible, given how thanks to Iraq we have neither the forces nor the attention span to spare for Afghanistan.