In an interview with NPR Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, calling him an "unworthy partner" who wasn't deserving of U.S. support in either the form of troops or aid. "How can we ask the American people to pay a big price in lives and limbs and also in dollars if we don't have a connection to a reliable partner?" Pelosi said.
While sharp rebukes such as Pelosi's are nothing new among Western leaders when it comes to Karzai, the Washington Post reports that U.S. diplomats are looking to dramatically adjust the tenor of their approach. With Karzai having just been sworn in for a second five-year term, top U.S. diplomats and generals are looking to adopt a more accommodating tone toward Karzai, with one official describing the U.S.'s efforts as tantamount to a "reset" of their relationship, the Post reported. This comes after a period of criticism toward Karzai from the West that had been "unusually harsh - and public," as the AP put it.
The feeling is that by turning up the pressure so relentlessly on Karzai to reform, who has generally been seen as an ineffective leader by many in the administration, the U.S. may have ended up pushing the Afghan leader further in the direction of rampant corruption and cronyism, according to the Post.
[Obama's] top diplomats and generals are abandoning for now their get-tough tactics with Karzai and attempting to forge a far warmer relationship. They recognize that their initial strategy may have done more harm than good, fueling stress and anger in a beleaguered, conspiracy-minded leader whom the U.S. government needs as a partner.
Karzai, for his part, tried to strike the right tone Thursday in terms of the types of reforms that Western leaders hope to see.
"We have to learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of the past eight years," Karzai said. "It is through this self-evaluation that we can better respond to the aspirations and expectations of our people."
Karzai also spoke of his desire to have Afghan forces take charge of the country's security within five years.