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The Obama-Karzai quarrel over Afghanistan sovereignty

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Mr. Karzai resents the fact that his fledgling democratic government cannot veto certain NATO methods, such as night raids on Afghan homes in search of Taliban fighters – raids that sometimes terrorize a household or result in civilian casualties.

And he dislikes the fact that so many foreign workers operate outside his government’s control. To him, the 1,500 workers in the US Embassy in Kabul seem like the reigning rulers.

At first, Obama appeared to sympathize, saying Karzai is “eager to reassert full sovereignty.” But then he pointed out that the United States won’t allow Al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan, that the US is spending billions to develop the country, and that more NATO troops would be killed without the use of forceful tactics like night raids. (The latter have been successful against the Taliban.)

“We have to listen and learn,” Obama said. “But he’s got to listen to us as well.”

Breaking a nation’s sovereignty isn’t always easy for the US, but it has become more common.

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