In 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul at the time, Karl Eikenberry, explained the Afghan and Karzai ways in a cable he sent to Washington.
"President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner. He and much of his circle do not want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers."
Say what you will about the Afghan warrior bandits: In the decade Americans spent among them, they never told us sweet things about our time, and our role, in their country.
This was "imperialism" with a new twist. The clients dependent on imperial protection never wearied of second-guessing the protectors.
Karzai himself must be unique in that regard in the long line of unsavory despots the U.S. had supported over several decades in developing countries.
For Karzai, the coalition forces were predators inflicting pain and ruin on the Afghans. At times, the foreign protectors ranked lower in esteem than the Taliban.
In November 2011, Karzai gave the quintessential Afghan statement about the place of the Americans and their coalition partners in his homeland.
"The lion doesn't like it if a foreigner intrudes into his house. The lion doesn't like it if a stranger enters his house.
The lion doesn't want his children to be taken away by someone else in the night, the lion won't let it happen."
All the lion would tolerate is for the outsiders to "just guard the four sides of the forest."
Well, soon the lion will be on his own. No Americans will be under any compulsion to dwell on the meaning and the ways of the loya jirga, the assembly of elders.
We will be spared anthropological recitations about the "Pashtunwali," the code of the Pashtuns, for we have already seen through the pretense and the kitsch.
There remain earnest Afghan women such as Fawzia Koofi and those schoolgirls we glimpse in their uniforms when our television crews venture into that country.
One shudders in fear and anxiety for them. They won't be able to board the flights for Dubai.
They will be there when the pitiless soldiers of the Taliban, like the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, sweep in and overwhelm all that the foreign protectors had left in place.
Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at the Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of "The Syrian Rebellion."