Hamid Karzai begins another term as Afghanistan's president with a long to-do list. The Obama administration has made clear to him that he must crack down on corruption, install a team of technocrats to run the country and weed out warlords and narco-traffickers. Those are all important priorities, but there is something else he should be doing as well: acting as a wartime leader.
So far, Karzai has been oddly disengaged from the war raging around him. Rarely if ever does he visit his own troops in the field, go to hospitals to comfort the wounded or honor the dead, as President Obama did so stirringly with his recent middle-of-the-night visit to Dover Air Force Base. Karzai doesn't even give speeches to rally his people in the effort to defeat the Taliban. When he does speak out, it is usually to bemoan civilian casualties caused by the Western coalition, inadvertently helping to further a Taliban propaganda line. Most of the time, though, he prefers to shelter behind the high walls of his presidential compound in Kabul, where he can focus on backroom deal-making.