While we’ve been celebrating the peaceful transfer of power in Britain, over in Washington the Obama administration has been stroking Hamid Karzai, the corrupt, incompetent ‘president’ of Afghanistan who — among other things — stole the last presidential election and refuses to concede control over the electoral monitoring process for the next. When Obama first visited Kabul a few months ago, he made clear his distaste for this criminal. But it now seems that the exigencies of US military operations in Afghanistan has required a change of heart. All of which reminds me of Barbara Tuchman’s marvellous book about imperial military adventures. Her essay on Vietnam, for example, reminds us that the weaker the corrupt, incompetent Saigon government became, the greater the leverage it exerted on the Administration in Washington. History repeats itself, as usual.