Lonely Karzai's Reelection Bid

Hamid Karzai is running for reelection as the president of Afghanistan, but he’s not the only one with his eyes on the office. Forty-one candidates are opposing him in the August 20 election, with one candidate asking how Afghanis can vote for a man who has led their country into corruption. "If the goal is to consolidate a group of drug dealers as the government of Afghanistan so that you have relative peace, then what is the vision?" Ashraf Ghani, a rival in the upcoming election, asks in a cover story for this week's New York Times Magazine. Others paint a sympathetic picture of an embattled, isolated figure, who makes accommodations to warlords and foreign governments in the hopes of keeping his country together. Karzai defends his shady approach to government, saying "I feel for the Afghan people," and holding up Gandhi as a role model. And yet corruption persists. "The Karzai family has opium and blood on their hands," a Western intelligence official tells The Times. Karzai’s unpopularity and questionable tactics have put the Obama administration in the awkward position of supporting a leader who may not have the backing of his people.