The recent decision by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to release dozens of prisoners, many of them hardened insurgents, is only the latest of his actions that have angered and confounded Western and even many Afghan observers. Everyone is scrambling to understand Karzai's motives, given his repeated incendiary remarks aimed toward the United States and, above all, the new obstacles he has set in place against the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). Many explain Karzai's behavior as that of a cunning negotiator, a committed nationalist, or even a borderline paranoid. Yet analysts tend to remain confident that Karzai understands the likely dire consequences for Afghanistan if he forces a total American troop withdrawal, and that he will thus know when to back off. The concern expressed by these observers is that Karzai may underestimate the negative impact of his behavior on a Washington grown tired of its Afghan commitments, and as a result will wait too long to sign the BSA.