On His Own

"Karzai was never really meant for power. The middle son of an influential tribal leader from Kandahar, he was sent to study in India in 1976, where he embraced Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence and, to a certain extent, vegetarianism. (In a country where the powerful eat meat at nearly every meal, Karzai notably limits his consumption — and that of the palace — to three days a week.) When an international conference on Afghanistan appointed Karzai interim President in 2001, it had little to do with his leadership abilities. He was the lowest common denominator, inoffensive in a country plagued by ethnic divisions where few leaders could boast clean hands."