Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan may seem to be semi-deranged at times but I suspect there is a motive under his scheming.
Support for the war in Afghanistan is waning in the US and he is reported to have said that he no longer trusts the US to stay the course. He is probably angry that an international review panel says the ballot box was stuffed last election. It is therefore the fault of the US that his authority has been undermined.
Interestingly, there are lots of stories in print about the trillion dollars in natural resources undeveloped in Afghanistan. Last Sunday's NY Times ran an article that said "The previously unknown deposits - including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and critical industry elements like lithium - are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world."This is not new. The study that the article refers to was published in 2006. It probably got resurrected because General Petraeus was quoted as saying there was "stunning potential."
That is undoubtedly true but the logistics are daunting. Afghanistan is underdeveloped to put it mildly. The country has little infrastructure and is only now building its first rail link to the outside world. A copper project has been started by the China Metallurgical Company and they have pledged over $3 billion. Some drilling has been done but a railway, power plant and smelting facilities still have to be built (source - Strafor Intelligence Survey.) There is a media blitz going on and perhaps the face of Afghanistan is about to change.
So if the face could change, Karzai is going to be looking to strike his own deal. With the Taliban, with the Chinese, with anyone who will play his game. I would think he would strike the best deal with China. China has $2.5 trillion in reserves and could flood the country with development money. Nothing like development money to win the hearts and minds of the insurgents. And the Chinese are already there with the copper project. And this is the country our young are fighting and dying in. Who in the US has this under control?
And who but President Lula da Silva has Brazil under control? Our "steadfast" ally, recipient of American aid for years, struck a deal with Iran (along with Turkey) regarding nuclear waste against Americas interests. They voted against the US sponsored sanctions towards Iran in the UN last week (as did Turkey.) He is cozy with Cuba and that lunatic Chavez in Venezuela because he thinks it will help him. I believe he takes the US for granted. He's right and will get away with it.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is at the crest of his popularity in the Arab world after his denunciation of Israel. It looks like he is making (a successful) bid to usurp Iran as the Islamic protector. The Economist Magazine, and the US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, both think Turkey was pushed in that direction by the European Union's refusal to admit them to the sacred conclave. Hell, they should be thanking the Europeans after what has happened!
And Israel seems to feel the US is no longer necessary for their interests.Refusal to give ground on the East Jerusalem construction could have been their stubbornness, or it could have been our underestimating the importance of the issue to the Israeli government dealing with crushing local issues. Foreign policy has to take all factors into account. The latest Israeli/Turkish naval mess shows as well that US influence in the dispute is limited.
We run the danger of misplaying the hand we were dealt with the Gulf oil spill crisis.