Corruption Threatens U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan, Galbraith Says

But, he said, to leave with complete pessimism is to throw up one's hands.

"I agree with the critique, but might depart with the ambassador on where we should be going," he said.

Chodosh said it is important to ask, "How can we learn from prior mistakes or weaknesses in our effectiveness?"

However, he added, resistance to training Afghans at sub-national levels of government is a mistake.

"You want to target people who have prior experience," he said, not just law graduates who are "very smart but aren't familiar with those processes and the problem sets they have to deal with that has so many challenges, including illiteracy."

"The folks working have to be clever enough to work with a legal process that is not necessarily based on written text," he said.

Galbraith admitted there was some progress in Afghanistan, particularly on providing health services and on women's rights. But as far whether he thought Karzai would tackle official corruption, he clearly pulled no punches.

"It is as Johnson said of second marriages: the triumph of hope over experience," Galbraith said. "But in this case, it goes beyond that."

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