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.
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.