Obama's Afghan Trip Highlights Uneasy Ties

President Obama flew to Afghanistan over the weekend to meet with President Hamid Karzai. The brief visit points to the uneasiness in the relationship between the U.S. and an Afghan government that American troops are fighting and dying to uphold.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

President Obama has scored several big political wins recently: the passage of a health care law and with it, big changes to student loan regulations, plus an important nuclear deal with Russia. But the president is not getting everything he wants.

NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr explains.

DANIEL SCHORR: Since the Cold War, big powers sometimes have difficulty getting their wishes respected. The president demands that Israel cease building new housing units in East Jerusalem. Israel ignores him and life goes on.

Russian control of the North Caucusus is challenged by suicide bombs in the Moscow subway and - life goes on.

President Obama flies overnight to Kabul to tell President Karzai to get serious about cracking down on rampant corruption in his government. Karzai plays host to Iranian President Ahmadinejad, America's principle adversary in the Middle East, for a speech denouncing the United States and - life goes on.

The buildup of American forces continues even though Karzai has ignored American demands that he rein in his drug cartel friendly brother. Even though Karzai has let it be known that his interests and America's may no longer coincide. That Karzai is held in low regard by the American military is well-known. He's widely considered to have stolen his election last August. His promises to deal with corruption in his government are taken as feeble.

It may be no coincidence that about the time President Obama was planning his visit to Kabul, Newsweek appeared with a cover story headlined: How we've wasted $8 billion on a corrupt and abusive police force that may cost us the war. I'm reminded of the Vietnam War when President Kennedy supported the ousting of an ineffectual South Vietnamese leadership headed by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

The Obama administration has no uncorrupted Afghan leader to install, even if it could. And so, the buildup of American forces in Afghanistan to 100,000 continues. And the publicized anger of the American forces continues.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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