Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Afghanistan's irresponsible leader

AFGHAN PRESIDENT Hamid Karzai sits in the relative comfort of Kabul thanks to the presence of American troops and money. Yet he attacks the very benefactor that has sacrificed more than any other to give his people hope and a sense of security. Karzai has long had a knack for saying the wrong thing at the worst possible time, but his recent anti-American tear has put American troops at greater risk and threatens to undo the tenuous gains the United States has paid mightily to foster for more than a decade.

During the past several weeks, Karzai has ordered American commandos to halt operations in the Taliban stronghold of Wardak Province, ramped up the dispute over the handling of detainees, and accused U.S. and Taliban forces of conspiring to prolong the war and the Western military presence. His comments came as Afghan security forces killed two coalition troops in the latest insider attack. The top American commander in Afghanistan issued a warning to his forces Wednesday, noting that Karzai's comments "could be a catalyst" for a backlash of violence. The American mission was right to take precautions, and it should be prepared to respond to further threat advisories in the coming days.

It is easy to dismiss Karzai's comments as self-serving, coming from a divisive leader facing his final year in office. He has routinely pushed back in his relationship with NATO in an effort to bolster his nationalist image among a population that fiercely distrusts foreigners. But Karzai's timing was particularly irresponsible. Coming as insider attacks are on the rise, the remarks open a door to extremists looking to infiltrate the security forces. They come as an unseasonably warm spring could bring an early start to the fighting season. And they mark a bizarre salvo as Washington and Kabul continue negotiations over a long-term U.S. security role in Afghanistan after NATO forces leave as scheduled at the end of 2014.

The Obama administration is in a diplomatic bind. Criticizing Karzai directly would have little impact on him, and it could only undermine coalition support for an ongoing military presence. But the administration should use this as a reality check going forward. Karzai tried to soften his remarks this week, but that was about self-preservation as much as the anti-American tirade that won him attention. The episode shows that Afghans still don't have confidence in the central government, much less its ability to broaden the political process. As President Barack Obama charts a post-2014 mission, he needs to be realistic about what he can achieve. Being accused of colluding with the enemy is not a promising start. It shows a depth of denial on Karzai's part about America's fatigue with this war that fundamentally questions this partnership.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18