Is Afghan President Hamid Karzai Off His Meds?
Policy + Politics

Is Afghan President Hamid Karzai Off His Meds?

REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long been rumored to have mental problems. A new report in The Washington Post is likely to add more fuel to that fire.

According to the Post, Karzai has been maintaining a list of attacks dating back years by the Taliban that he believes the United States has had a hand in. This includes the recent bombing of a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, an attack that left 21 dead, including three Americans.

Related: Obama's Zero Option Saves $111 Billion in Afghanistan

Apparently Karzai believes the United States is killing its own citizens to undermine him in negotiations with the United States by creating instability in Afghanistan. 

Aides to Karzai say this is one of the primary reasons he is resisting signing the bilateral security agreement, which has dragged on for months. These same aides alluded to the possibility that Karzai is simply making it all up since he has no evidence to back his charges.

American officials reacted angrily to Karzai’s accusation, with U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham saying, “It’s a deeply conspiratorial view that’s divorced from reality,” and that Karzai might be making the allegations to “throw us off balance.” 

That might be the case, but the fact that Karzai has kept the list for so long without any evidence could hint at long-rumored mental illness. A formal diagnosis of Karzai has never been released - it might not have ever been made - but in 2010, Bob Woodward reported in Obama’s Wars that American intelligence diagnosed him as manic-depressive. Woodward quotes former U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry as saying of Karzai, “He's on his meds, he's off his meds.”

Related: U.S. Afghanistan Exit: A Quick End to Long War

Woodward reported that Karzai’s moods frustrated White House officials when President Obama was trying to decide whether to keep American troops in Afghanistan in 2009. Four years later, Karzai’s flip-flops are holding up an agreement to keep U.S. troops there past this coming summer.

Now, the White House is threatening what Obama considered in 2009: getting out of Afghanistan completely. Many believe this threat would get Karzai to agree to a deal, but without U.S. troops, Karzai would not receive American money.

If Karzai is truly ill, it might not matter; he might not be mentally able to agree to a reasonable deal. His sickness might finally end the Afghan War.

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