M K Bhadrakumar points out that the fact that Karzai bowed to the pressure and accepted a run-off election might have pleased the US, but it might have irrevocably weakened him in the eyes of fellow Afghans. He puts it well:
He goes on:
In their triumphalism, however, the Western capitals haven't quite grasped that Afghans will not respect those incapable of giving steadfast friendship, either. Whether Karzai was efficient or corrupt is no more the issue. The issue is the Afghan perception that Westerners use their friends like condoms - to be discarded after use.
This will have implications for the much-touted "Afghanization" strategy. Surely, any "Afghanization" of the war in the Hindu Kush needed to be built around the phallic power of an alpha male - figuratively put, of course - and that has become impossible now. No matter who wins the November 7 runoff, he will carry the cross of being an American puppet, which undercuts the "Afghanization" strategy.
He goes on:
Arguably, the only feasible way of "Afghanization" was the route Karzai took - via coalitions with local commanders, warlords, mujahideen, tribal maliks (chiefs) and the mullahs. "Afghanization" depended on a key Pashtun figure with the capacity to network. Between Karzai and Abdullah, the choice is limited as that figure can only be Karzai.So the US wants to Afghanize the war, but doesn't want anyone in charge that might have enough independence and strength to effectively govern. Contradictory goals will doom the doomed war all the quicker.
The theatrics in Kabul over the weekend (which US President Barack Obama has, astonishingly, commended) underline that the US is actually not looking for a strong Afghan power structure. All the talk of the Afghan election being fraudulent and the United Nations-supported electoral watchdog ruled a new round is baloney. As the Pakistani author Tariq Ali wrote, "The Hindu Kush mountains must have resounded to the sound of Pashtun laughter."