The bloom has long been off the Karzai hat as Afghanistan becomes worse and worse.
Right after U.S. forces went into Afghanistan in 2001 — in those heady “Paris 1944” days of liberating Kabul and most of the country — one of my best friends put to me an urgent request. Knowing I was en route to Kabul he asked me to please bring him a “Karzai hat” upon my returning to the States.
My friend was referring to the haberdashery of the newly installed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, whose fashion attire – robes, hat and more – was the first impression many Americans and others fixed upon the new Afghan leader. The hat and wardrobe conveyed a style that seized the imagination of many and added to the vibes that seemed to suggest the United States was in a good fight and was going to make a positive difference.
Even the merchants of Kabul bought into it. When I first asked around for such a hat, there was none for purchase. Two days later, the same merchants were waving me into their stores and quickly the phase “Karzai hat” went like a tsunami through the streets. “Karzai hats” – like that unexpected love affair between Afghans and their new American friends — were sprouting everywhere. The merchants knew a good thing as well. Everything was beautiful.
Americans were happy to go after the bad guys hiding in Afghanistan and be a friend of the good people. Afghans were truly happy Americans were helping them throw off some evil oppression and, in the process, settle a few scores. America showed the world it had learned from the mistakes made by the Soviets – who after all invaded Afghanistan, not liberated it. This was going to be different. The people there liked us.
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