Bringing down the curtain on the Afghan election farce

Now what?

Let’s see if I have this timeline correct:

1.  Afghanistan had a vote for President in which there was such massive ballot fraud that it was impossible to tell whether Hamid Karzai had gotten over the 50% threshold to win outright.

2.  The “Independent Election Commission,” which consists of Hamid Karzai’s appointees, finally bowed to  pressure from the U.S. and other donors, admitted that a first-round winner couldn’t be determined, and agreed to do a runoff.

3.  Great rejoicing in Washington about the vindication of democracy in Afghanistan.

4.  The commission then decided to expand the number of polling places in areas where voting couldn’t actually take place, thus paving the way for even more fraud the second time around.

5.  The commission chair openly predicted another Karzai victory in the runoff.

6.  Abdullah Abdullah, the second-place finisher, withdrew from an obviously fixed contest. 

7.  The commission announced that the runoff would take place just the same.

8.  Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the withdrawal didn’t reduce the legitimacy of the runoff.  (Which was true enough:  the legitimacy of the runoff was already at zero.)

9.  The commission then changed its mind and proclaimed Karzai the winner.  (Thank Heaven for small mercies.)

10.  The U.S. government congratulated President Karzai on his victory.

I’m still looking for an example of a successful counterinsurgency campaign mounted on behalf of a government as weak, corrupt, and unpopular as Karzai’s.   That doesn’t mean I think I know what to do in Afghanistan; I don’t.  But despite all the yapping from McCain, Boehner, Kristol, Lieberman & Co. about having to hurry up to double down on Karzai, I’m glad to see a deliberate and deliberative decision-making process on this one.  Insofar as we have any leverage at all over the Karzai regime, we will have less once he has the commitment for more American troops.

In his congratulatory phone call to Karzai, Barack Obama told him, roughly, to clean up his act.  Good.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

5 thoughts on “Bringing down the curtain on the Afghan election farce”

  1. Ed asked:

    > Does this mean that Karzai is not even “our sunuvabitch”?

    It means even we cannot pretend he is, unless he changes his stripes, like PDQ. No one actually expects him to. Hopefully Karzai's win (cough, cough) will provide an opening for us to entirely reassess what's do-able there and what's not.

    Not long after 9/11, the late Molly Ivins observed that in 1950, Harry Truman sent U.S. troops into a war and called it a "police action," while in 2001 in Afghanistan we embarked on what rightly should've been considered a police action (going after bin Laden and al Qaeda), and instead framed it as a war. She was right, and we've been shackled to it ever since — police actions can end when their (limited) goals are accomplished; politically speaking, wars have to be WON, which in Afghanistan has been an elusive goal since Alexander the Great.

    What the White House has to do is reframe the Afghanistan question into the "police action" model — which it correctly should have been all along — and then we'd be able to leave, or at least scale back our forces there into something that's realistically manageable.

  2. No, she wasn't right: "Police action" is a euphemism, war deserves to be called war, and this is war. Police don't bomb from the air, do targeted assassinations… It's war, in all it's gory messiness.

  3. Karzai, can even two Afghans be found that finds this third rate american asshole sucking shithead to be acceptable? Hell, his drug thug brother with his Ci lying a pension would probably get more votes. Was in Vietnam when Nguyen Van Thieu won an election with 97 per cent of the vote. Every single Vietnamese that I asked said Ho Chi Minh was the president and he had been dead for a year.

    Clinton pretending that this stooge is president certainly erodes any feeling that I have that she is more competent than her shoe buying predecessor lying Rice. Classic line "Are you calling me a liar?" Correct response, "Absolutely, yes." Tail wagger, "no miss Rice." whimper, whimper. I have seen entirely too much filth. Can Karzai. If he wants to stick around, give him the old Ci lying a tactic like Ngô Đình Diệm.

    Ask the Afghans what they want. Then get the hell out. Clinton's lying should have absolutely no support. I don't use liar easily, but this woman is going to outRice Rice, who had to hold a record for pure documented bald faced lies. If the gutless asshole in the white house can't give orders, impeach him for war crimes, try him for the pilotless drone murders, ship his ass to Leavenworth. Maybe Joe Biden will get the message.

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