Hamid Karzai’s complaining about the U.S. is commonly dismissed as understandable electioneering or benign demagoguery in a country with an uneasy hang-up about foreign troops. But what’s the excuse for saying this stuff to Le Figaro?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he believes the United States is denouncing his family and political allies in an effort to undermine his position.

In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro published Monday, Mr. Karzai said the United States is using "underhanded" tactics to undermine him.

He said he believed that recent U.S. criticism of his running mate, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, was actually aimed at him. He also said accusations that his brother is corrupt are unfounded.

The Obama administration has an uneasy relationship with Karzai. But it’s not trying to undermine him. His corruption and electoral fraud — which he dismissed as irrelevant but didn’t deny in the interview — do that just fine. So does Fahim’s, er, checkered past. It puts me in mind of this great Halberstam passage from The Best & The Brightest:

If [the] failure to change the political balance was not realized in Washington, it was understood by many in Saigon, particularly among the Vietnamese military, and it was certainly understood in Hanoi. There Bernard Fall, the French historian, was visiting in early 1962 on a rare visa. He was granted an interview with Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, and instead of finding Dong upset by the newest infusion of American aid, Fall saw that he was rather amused by it all. Poor Diem, Dong was saying, he is unpopular. And because he is unpopular, the Americans must give him aid. And because the Americans must give him aid, he is even less popular, and because he is even less popular, the Americans must give him even more aid… At which point Fall said he thought it sounded like a vicious circle. "Not a vicious circle," Dong said, "a downward spiral."