Despite my best efforts, I can't watch or read all the foreign news items I'd like to. However, I read a few recently that seemed revealing and that I haven't yet seen here.
From Al Jazeera, an article posted yesterday:
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, reacted to the news that Washington's carefully-crafted script of a fraud-cleansing second round had been torn up and left in tatters, by saying that the US would work with not just the Afghan president but "local" and "regional" players in Afghanistan.
Leaks about Obama's consultations on Afghanistan suggest he wants to focus the US military effort on protecting civilians (and not killing Taliban fighters) in ten urban areas.
In that scenario, the long-standing jibe of Nato commanders about Karzai – that he is only the "deputy mayor of Kabul" - could turn into a sudden advantage.
Karzai won't be in the way if and when American generals try to build ten safe urban security "islands" across the country, presumably with the help of local politicians who retain real legitimacy - or at least more so than the president in Kabul.
More over the fold.
In an interview with SoS Hillary Clinton in Spiegel Online International:
Clinton : In order to accomplish the goal we set of having a country that is able to stand up and defend itself, there has to be an effort for more accountability; the rule of law; security. Our chances of success in this struggle are enhanced by a government in Afghanistan that can be a partner that can help to train and deploy a bigger and more effective security force. We have to try to better organize our efforts and try to demand more from the Afghan government itself.
SPIEGEL: After the election fraud in favor of President Hamid Karzai -- shouldn't you insist on a government of national unity, including his challenger Abdullah Abdullah?
Clinton : Well, I think that what we are interested in is an effective government. Who the personalities are is not as big a concern as having competent, effective, honest members of the government. But we are not only looking at the government in Kabul, we are also looking at the government throughout the country. Because very often, it is local governance, as it has historically been in Afghanistan, that delivers services, that provides security. So we think more has to be done with the local government structures.
SPIEGEL: Do we understand you correctly: The US government is thinking about naming local governors or at least influencing their nomination?
Clinton : I think that a number of us -- not just the United States but a number of NATO members, too -- agree with what Prime Minister Brown said last week: That there has to be more accountability. We do see this as in our national security interest, but part of being successful and protecting our interest is having a better partner in Afghanistan. And we will be making our views known and we will have certain measurements of accountability that we expect.
And then one more Al Jazeera article posted today that seems to tie in:
Afghanistan is to set up an anti-corruption unit pledging to investigate graft among the country's senior officials.
Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the interior minister, said on Monday the unit would work with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Britain's Scotland Yard and Eupol, the European Union's police training mission to Afghanistan.
Atmar told a news conference: "[President] Hamid Karzai, after being re-elected for another five years, has dedicated his five years to fighting corruption.
"A giant step is being taken today in announcing the opening of the major crime task force."
Karzai was re-elected as president after widespread voter fraud was revealed, depriving him of the 50 per cent win he needed to avoid a run-off. His main rival pulled out of the second round and Karzai was re-appointed.
Atmar added: "The idea of the unit is that all top-level employees in Afghanistan involved in corruption should be held responsible, both civilian and military and, if proved guilty, they should be fired and prosecuted in accordance with the law."
How much of this has been reported here I'm not sure (I hadn't seen it before), but I thought it was rather interesting to see where the rest of the world thinks we may be headed in Afghanistan.