Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Round of Sham Elections in Afghanistan

After some haranguing from John Kerry, Hamid Karzai has decided to go along with a run-off election with his top challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.  It's too bad that he couldn't have been brought around to this a few weeks ago, when the evidence of fraud (perpetrated mostly by his own people) was becoming blatantly obvious.

Problem is (as this report notes straightaway), owing to the onset of winter, the poll has been set for only 2 weeks from now.  There is no way in hell that this can wind up being a truly representative poll - the weather, the Taliban insurgency and intimidation, the violence across so much of the country, and the growing sense among many that this entire exercise is being staged for the benefit of foreigners all weigh against it. 
Ultimately, the success of the second round will depend on the mood of the voters. Many Afghans say they are tired of all of the fuss, and just want to be left alone.

“I don’t know what the foreigners want from us here,” sighed Mohammad Yasin, a taxi driver in Kabul. “What elections? What freedom? What democracy? Whatever the foreigners want, they do. Nobody knew Karzai, they dropped him on a mountain in Uruzgan province and made him president. So now they can make somebody else president. This is a real soap opera for the foreigners. They enjoy our suffering.”

But the odds are that Karzai will "win'; the US will hail him as a "legitimate," democratically elected partner" in "moving ahead"; and the door will be open wide for Obama to send in more US troops.  In any event, the Republican and neocon demands that he do so are growing more shrill and insistent by the day, and the Hillary Clintons of the world seem to be pressuring Obama along the same lines.  A Karzai "victory" will only expand the cascade.

Meanwhile, be sure to look into David Rohde's multi-part series (in the NY Times) on his captivity with Pakistan Taliban; and the New Yorker's Jane Mayer (whose reporting on Bush administration authorization of torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib was superb, as well as her book, The Dark Side) reports on drone strikes in Pakistan is a must-read. (and see also the report from the New America Foundation).

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