In announcing the strategy, which includes sending an additional 30,000 U.S. troops, President Barack Obama said Tuesday Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is starting his second term in office, would need to crack down on corruption in his government.
But the Times reported the Karzai government is so steeped in corruption, its legitimacy is a question mark in the minds of Afghans. More Americans wonder whether such a government is worth sacrificing so many American lives.
Karzai's own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is suspected of being linked to the narcotics trade whose money helps finance the Taliban.
"We have to have a better government because all these soldiers will be sent to benefit this corrupt government," Afghan parliament member Noorulhaq Uloomi told the Times. "This government is corrupt from top to bottom."
The U.S. newspaper said it is hoped the exit time table of July 2011 set in Obama's plan and restricting U.S. funds going directly to the Kabul government would force Karzai to act. But beyond that it is not clear what would happen if Karzai fails to act.
The newspaper said the United States has not had much success in forcing Karzai to clean up his government in the eight years he has led the country.
"We're in a battle to win over what the average Afghan wants for their country, and whether they have more faith in their own government," an American military official told the Times.