President Obama made a surprise visit to
this weekend, where he visited with President Hamid
Karzai as well as other Afghan and American officials. He also made an address to the troops
trip's mission is seen as twofold
: Publicly pressure Karzai on
Afghanistan's widespread corruption and demonstrate American focus on
the war. This is Obama's second trip to Afghanistan, the first since his
election. Here's the commentary.
- Shows Renewed Focus on
Afghanistan The Washington Post's Greg Sargent says, "It signals a
pivot to a more direct focus on national security issues and
international affairs, now that he’s successfully put behind him a major
domestic accomplishment that consumed a year of presidential energy and
- Why Afghan Corruption So Complicated
The Washington Post's Karen DeYoung explores "The likelihood that U.S. money is
finding its way to the enemy as well as lining officials' pockets." She
writes that the many contracts and sub-contracts with Afghans are
near-impossible to fully police, making it highly possible that money
could be finding its way to the Taliban. She says senior officials
including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have raised the issue and
made it a priority.
- Reminds Us of Mission's Importance
The Daily Beast's Bruce Riedel uses the trip
as an opportunity to explore several planned but foiled terrorist
attacks against the United States in recent months. "Indeed, the stakes
are huge in this war. If any one of those al Qaeda plots last year had
succeeded in New York, Detroit, or Copenhagen, Obama’s presidency and
our nation’s history would have been transformed," he writes. "Obama’s
visit is a reminder of how important—and difficult—this mission is."
'Clear Intent' Newsweek's Daniel Stone sums it up, "Having vowed last fall that combat troops would
begin coming home next summer, the president knows his reputation – and
his standing with conservatives who think he’s too soft on national
security – relies on him making good on that promise. To do that
requires hefty motivation for Karzai and his government to get things
moving. For Obama, there are few better ways to show you’re serious than
showing up at someone’s door."
- Obama Gave His Best
Speech Commentary's Abe Greenwald, usually a vicious
critic of Obama's every move, conceded that his speech in Afghanistan
was "excellent — even inspiring." Greenwald writes, "This was a
contender for the best speech of Obama’s presidency thus far. May he
continue to inspire on Afghanistan. And may some of that inspiration
leak into other foreign policy areas, where notions of America’s
commitment and the protection of human dignity have been found
- Obama and Karzai Working Together
The Swamp's Mark Silva reports, "In the
meeting, described as 'businesslike' and 'very productive,' the main
topics discussed included governance, merit-based appointments of Afghan
officials, and corruption. They also talked about recent trips which
Karzai took to China and Pakstan - and the Afghan leader is planning
another trip to Washington on May 12."
- Subtle Threat to
Karzai? The Wall Street Journal's Peter Speigel thinks so.
"The trip puts the president’s credibility firmly behind Afghan
President Hamid Karzai, but at the same time underscores the message the
U.S. has been sending him for some time: U.S. support does not come
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