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A war of words between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the White House has escalated with Washington expressing frustration that an attempt to smooth over the feud had so far failed.
Karzai said he stood by remarks from last week accusing the West of carrying out election fraud in Afghanistan, and appeared to sharpen the criticism still further by singling out the United States specifically for blame.
The White House said it was frustrated on behalf of the American public, and invoked the sacrifice made by families who send their loved ones off to fight. There are more than 120,000 Western troops in Afghanistan, including more than 80,000 Americans, set to rise to 100,000 Americans this year.
Karzai’s continued defense of his anti-Western remarks could signal that he is pursuing a deliberate new policy of distancing himself from his Western backers, rather than simply having expressed frustration in a one-off outburst last week.
That could complicate U.S. counter-insurgency war strategy, which depends on showing a united front with Karzai’s government and persuading Afghans that troops are there to support it.
Karzai phoned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday to smooth over the quarrel, but White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that since that phone call “it obviously didn’t get any better.
“The remarks are troubling and the substance of the remarks is simply just not true,” Gibbs said…
Gibbs said a May 12 visit by Karzai to Washington was still on and Washington would continue to work with Karzai, but had set benchmarks for his government. He did not expect Karzai’s remarks to affect consideration in Congress of the Obama administration’s request for funds to pay for the war.
Of course. Has the course of war ever affect Congress’ willingness to lay out taxpayer dollars?