You never want to have military forces deployed for strictly political reasons. But, you also want to have a compelling explanation for why you are withdrawing troops without them having first accomplished their mission. And I think President Hamid Karzai is making the wrong gamble with his recent attempts to boost his own popularity at our expense.

President Hamid Karzai’s startling threat to join the Taliban if foreigners don’t stop meddling in Afghanistan and his strident criticism of the West’s role have worsened relations with Washington at a time when the U.S. military wants closer cooperation ahead of a potentially decisive offensive this summer.

What Karzai is doing is creating the exact narrative Obama needs to take to Congress and the American people to explain why we are removing our troops from Afghanistan and our support for his government. I don’t think Karzai is doing this at our bidding. He’s gambling that he can bash us with his own constituency without us having the option of abandoning him.

That’s a gamble that would work quite well with a President John McCain, but Obama is looking for a way out of Afghanistan that doesn’t come with a huge political cost. He might just take Karzai up on his offer.

Alternatively, we could do what we’ve historically done, which is to send a message to Karzai’s praetorian guard that we have no further use for him. I don’t advocate political coups and murder, but Karzai should be more cognizant of our track record.