Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty got an exclusive interview with Hamid Karzai after yesterday’s presidential debate. The whole thing’s fairly predictable — Karzai lists his accomplishments in office and dismisses his critics — until Karzai slips this in:

“I repeat that the war on terrorism is not inside Afghanistan, as was the case in the past. This war is not in our homes, in our villages, or [winnable by] arresting our people. This war should be pursued inside terrorist sanctuaries and training centers, and they are all outside Afghanistan, as is being proven now.”

My emphasis. That sounds a whole lot like a rejection of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s approach to the war, which he recently explained to The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe as “look[ing] at those parts of the country that are most important — and those typically, in an insurgency, are the population centers.” And sure, there’s a certain amount of expectation among U.S. observers that Karzai will and needs to pander to nationalistic sentiment. But it’s also difficult to spool those comments back should Karzai use them to win on Thursday. His point that there aren’t “terrorist sanctuaries” in Afghanistan anymore has been raised by counterinsurgency and Afghanistan-war critics for the last several weeks. By implication, Karzai is opening up more of a door to reconciling with the Taliban than he has to date — a good overview of that comes in today’s New York Times — by ruling the Afghan-centric organization out of the cohort of legitimate enemies.