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Old 02-13-2009, 07:32 PM
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Post Afghan President Karzai hopes Obama will "settle down," show "better judgment"

Afghan President Karzai hopes Obama will "settle down," show "better judgment"

President Barack Obama is moving up in the world in terms of picking fights. Or walking into them.

First came a disagreement over the impact of the administration's economic stimulus package in East Peoria, Ill., with Jim Owens, the man who runs Caterpillar. The Ticket reported that one here this morning.


Now, it seems the new U.S. president has a problem with another president, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, which Obama has long maintained is the actual central front in the ongoing global war on terror. Despite opinion poll numbers showing weak public support among Americans, Obama's expected to make a decision here soon on how many additional U.S. combat troops to send into that fractious land.


The good folks over at CNN, merely in the interest of spreading information, you understand, have sent us a quick excerpt from this Sunday's "GPS" program with Fareed Zakaria. Fareed's got a lengthy, exclusive taped interview with Karzai to air there at 10 a.m. Pacific.

Here's one unsettling exchange with the Afghan chief of state sounding a tad displeased with his newbie presidential counterpart:

Zakaria: "Mr. President, how will you deal with the Obama administration because you did get on well with Bush. President Obama says that 'Karzai has a bunker mentality.' He has said that the Afghan government seems detached from what is happening in the rest of the country. Richard Holbrooke has made similar criticisms. Do you feel that these people --
President Obama, Special Representative Holbrooke -- do not understand what is happening in Afghanistan?"

Karzai: "I saw that statement and I was surprised to see that statement.


"About seven months ago, the U.S. embassy signed a multi-million dollar contract with our ministry of health -- over $100 million I believe -- because the ministry of health, according to the U.S. embassy, has done such a great service all over the country and is present all over the country. Our rural development program has reached 75% of Afghan's 40,000 villages.


"We had schools in the country where we've never had schools in our history. We have roads in the country paved where we've never had roads in our history. The engagement with the Afghan population is so wide and so widely spread that we've never had in our history. And the U.S. government officials in Afghanistan know that.

"So I was surprised to hear that statement. Perhaps it's because the administration has not yet put itself together. Perhaps they have not been given the information yet. And I hope as they settle down, as they learn more, we will see better judgment."


-- Andrew Malcol

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/02/obama-karzai.html
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