While announcing his plan to slow the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan today, President Obama made a high-profile slip-of the-tongue, and somehow wound up complimenting the very leader he mean to criticize.
The U.S. will maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015 “in part so that President Karzai – who has taken on the mantle of commander in chief in a way that we have not seen in the past from an Afghan president – can do a serious review,” Obama said during a press conference in the East Room today, gesturing towards the new Afghan president.
Problem is, the current president of Afghanistan isn’t Karzai – it’ Ashraf Ghani.
Obama’s comment was presumably meant as a not-so-subtle jab at Ghani’s predecessor, President Hamid Karzai, whose icy relationship with Obama made headlines. Karzai, whose second term ended in 2014, repeatedly slammed the U.S. for its role in Afghan civilian casualties, claimed America had attempted to undermine the Afghan government, and even suggested the U.S.-led forces could “leave” the country.
Ghani, on the other hand, has routinely lauded the U.S./Afghanistan partnership and today thanked American troops – and even “the American taxpayer” – for their role in his nation’s security.