Anatol Lieven in the New York Review of Books:

In one respect, we are in a much weaker position than the Soviets in 1989. They could leave behind a rather formidable Pashtun dictator, Najibullah Khan. We have committed ourselves to holding presidential elections in Afghanistan next year—with no credible leader to replace Hamid Karzai even remotely in prospect. The collapse of these elections could take the entire Afghan state and army with them. Already, a good many of the Afghan elites who are supported by the West are demonstrating their lack of confidence in the future of the current set up in Kabul by transferring their money, their families, and increasingly themselves to other countries. Particularly noteworthy is the apparent decision of dozens of Afghan diplomats to seek political asylum in the countries to which they have been posted. As a recent article in Der Spiegel notes, these diplomats are very often the children of high-ranking politicians and officials in Kabul—which says something rather awful about the nature of the regime that we have set up. According to Der Spiegel, there are many others who have refused to return to duties in Kabul, and have instead demanded an extension of their existing postings abroad until after next year’s elections.

Photo by Flickr user US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan.