Karzai, Iran, the US, and Bags of Cash

I had the opportunity tonight to chat with PBS NewsHour Chief Anchor Jim Lehrer and former Afghanistan Interior Minister and National Defense University professor Ali Jalali about the solvency of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai given the acknowledgment that he is accepting "bags of cash" from Iran.

Interestingly, at a press conference Karzai also acknowledged that his government was getting similar bags of cash from the United States -- which White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied.

I thought that this was a very good exchange -- and was able to surface some of the key themes from the recently released Afghanistan Study Group Report.

Suffice it to say that former Minister Jalali defended Karzai's government as the only game in town, and I took an opposite view -- suggesting that we had overinvested in Karzai and Afghanistan, which was now trapping and containing American power rather than further leveraging it in the region. Karzai, I suggested, was maximizing his own interests in a tough neighborhood but was an undependable and unreliable ally.

Here is the transcript from the exchange as well.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note. Clemons can be followed on Twitter @SCClemons