"Karzai feels he's hostage to the internationals, and they feel they are hostage to him. So you have this frustration on both sides," says Martine van Bijlert, codirector of the Afghanistan Analysts Network in Kabul. "It's been like that for a long time, and it seems to be getting worse."
Yet Karzai and Washington are bound together in the interests of their charge – post-Taliban Afghanistan – with President Obama committing 30,000 more troops to safeguard Karzai's fragile regime.
Analysts are divided on how the United States might put the relationship on more constructive footing, with some advocating careful confrontation and others counseling avoidance.
The confrontational approach involves warning Karzai that his anti-Western statements undermine public support from NATO democracies that have committed troops to Afghanistan.