In an interview with The Washington Post on Saturday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan reflected on 12 years in power that have often found him at odds with the United States, during what has been the longest war in U.S. history:
Karzai is preparing to give way to a successor after presidential elections scheduled for April. He spoke with anger, emotion and defiance in saying that he is “of two hearts’’ about whether the American-led war was worthwhile. Here are seven key quotes that capture Karzai’s views:
1) “There is no war to be fought in Afghanistan. I believe that much of the conflict is a creation in which the Afghans suffer.’’
2) “Why is America here? I can’t answer for America. The American president says they are here to fight extremism and terrorism and to secure America. If the way toward securing America is raiding Afghan homes, fighting in Afghan villages — well, that will not secure America.
3) “I did not get attention when I spoke behind closed doors. . . . In other words, I was forced to yell.’’
4) “Al-Qaeda to me is more a myth than a reality. . . . I can’t talk about the defeat of something that I don’t see.’’
5) “I am a pacifist, I am a total, absolute pacifist. I don’t believe in war, and I don’t believe in guns, and I don’t believe in politics. I think it’s dirty.’’
6) “I’ve done enough . . . even if a great many Afghans want to me to stay, I don’t believe it’s good for the country.’’
7) “To the American people, give them my best wishes and my gratitude. To the U.S. government, give them my anger, my extreme anger.’’
Full transcript of Karzai’s interview with The Post’s Kevin Sieff and Douglas Jehl.