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Video: Fox News Sunday Panel on Afghanistan

7:00 AM, Jun 14, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Some disturbing reports this week about Afghan president Karzai. The lead story in the Saturday New York Times, which you just heard Ambassador Rice deny, says Karzai has lost faith that the U.S. and NATO will win the war and is looking to cut his own deal with the Taliban, and the delay in Kandahar, which is a crucial offensive to this war, is reportedly because Karzai is failing to come up with the civilian support and the military support to hold onto the area once the U.S. clears it.

Question, Brit: Can we win this war without Karzai?

HUME: I doubt it. And the question is really can we win the war with Karzai, because he's going to be there a while, and he's a problem. And he has been a problem. So then -- which in turn raises the question, how well has the administration managed the relationship with him.

And I think you have to say that the administration's management of that relationship has been erratic. They publicly called him out at one time. That manifestly did not work. It (inaudible) talking about buddy- buddy with the Taliban, something he's now suggesting he's prepared to do again.

I think this guy requires a lot of attention. He's weak. He may be corrupt. There are all kind of problems associated with him. But there is -- and this is a tremendous diplomatic challenge, one I think the administration to date has manage not very effectively. And that counts in part for the problems we're having in Kandahar, where you've got a sort of -- as Susan Rice correctly pointed out, I think you do have -- there's a political dimension to this.

You do have to kind of lay the groundwork so that if you go in and vanquish these people that the local population there will be with you and will be able to sustain itself after you begin to pull away.

WALLACE: Let me pick up on the handling of Karzai with you, Mara, because according to the Times, there are two parts to Karzai's disaffection from the administration.

LIASSON: Right.

WALLACE: The first was last summer when we accused him of stealing -- trying to steal the presidential election. And the second part was the fact that when President Obama announced the troop surge into Afghanistan, in the same speech at West Point he said, "Oh, and by the way, we're also going to begin pulling troops out in July of 2011," and supposedly Karzai says, "Hey, how long are these guys going to be around?"

LIASSON: Yeah, I -- look, I think it's a legitimate question for Karzai and other Afghans to wonder how deep is our commitment. But I really think that when President Obama said he is going to begin -- not pull them out, but just begin drawing down, I think that was a domestic political statement.

He had to show that this wasn't an open-ended commitment. I think that it will be politically impossible for the president to leave Afghanistan unless he's successful there. He can't leave Afghanistan and have it go to the Taliban.

And I think that it's -- that -- I think that Karzai can use it as a handy excuse, "Oh, I can't -- don't trust the Americans because they're going to leave, therefore, I have to make a deal with the Taliban," which is what he's talking about.

I think that he -- the administration -- the White House and the president went into this escalation knowing they didn't have a credible partner. And I've been told a million times by these guys that the only way you do effective counterinsurgency is if you have a credible local partner, and they didn't have one, and they went in anyway, and now they're dealing with all the repercussions.

There is no government in a box to do the holding after you've cleared the areas of Taliban. And you know, Karzai is not only corrupt and ineffective, he also favors a policy of making a deal with the Taliban. I think this is a really huge problem. And I think it's going to hamper our efforts there.

KRISTOL: I was at a dinner this week with about a dozen experts on Afghanistan, most of whom have been there for quite some time and quite recently, bipartisan group, all of them supportive of the effort, but many very close to the Obama administration, and the non- governmental organizations and the like, and I was amazed by the consensus on two things. One, the time line. We are paying a much bigger price for the time line over there than a lot of us thought we would when Obama announced... WALLACE: The time when we begin pulling troops out in July of 2011.

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