The key to a viable Afghanistan, one that is stable and peaceful and commands the allegiance of a majority of its citizens, is an honest and credible government. The Taliban and other insurgencies are a threat, but they gain traction only because Afghans feel that the government in Kabul does not look out for their interests. Corruption is a corrosive that destroys the legitimacy and viability of the government.

That is why the failure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to crack down on corruption in his administration and among his political allies is so dangerous. Instead of cleaning up government, Mr. Karzai has been blocking efforts to clean out corrupt politicians. The result is not only eroding support for his government among Afghans, but deepening divisions among allied countries trying to stabilize Afghanistan.

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