Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A word on the election fraud in Afghanistan

Peter Galbraith in the 'Guardian' quite rightly points out that the results of the election in Afghanistan were a lot closer than we are led to believe because the Electoral Complaints Commission, that was set up after the first election, reduced Karzai's total to 49.67%, as it only had to determine if a run off was required; Karzai receiving less than 50% of the votes was sufficient to ensure a run off. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence to suggest that Karzai's total in the first round was in fact closer to 41% and that there was at least some chance that Abdullah, who received about 34% in the first election, might have won the second round had he been able to capitalise on public disgust with the fraud. Of course, it is all very hypothetical and now that Abdullah has withdrawn from the run off, not because he didn't stand a chance, as some of his opponents are suggesting, but because he knew tthat the mechanisms for a fair election were not in place, we will just never know.

What we do know, however, is that Karzai's government is corrupt and will remain so despite promises to tackle corruption. Moreover, we also know that this government does not enjoy the widespread support that is required to tackle the insurgency and despite this the West has decided that Karzai in Kabul is their man in Afghanistan. Or is it not a bit strange that only two weeks after Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, and countless other western leaders, were saying that there had been electoral fraud, we have them facilitating that insurgency by sending the man with the shawls their congratulations after he had been elected president by those same fraudulent votes?

On Sunday Karzai questioned the reliability of the United States as a partner while once again condemning them for the loss of civilian lives, disrespecting him as a partner and disrespecting Afghanistan's customs and traditions. Coming from Karzai this is almost perverse even athough it is true. Nevertheless, the evidence would seem to suggest that "Uncle Sam" and his sidekicks in the so-called "international coalition and the corrupt Kabul government are stuck in a marriage of convenience despite Peter Galbraith asserting correctly that "Hamid Karzai was determined to win Afghanistan's presidential elections without regard to the cost to his country and to the international military mission. He succeeded, and Afghanistan and its foreign friends will now pay the very steep price." They might, indeed, but while Mr Galbraith speaks words of wisdom when he says that "under those circumstances sending more troops to Afghanistan to implement a counter-insurgency strategy is a waste of precious military resources," it is not 'Queen Reason' that will decide American policy but rather irrational voices like that of Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who is reported in the 'New York Times' as saying, “Now that it is clear that President Karzai will remain in office, the White House has no further pretext for delaying the decision on giving General McChrystal the resources he needs to achieve our goals in Afghanistan.” The last thing the West wanted was Abdullah, or anyone else, in the way to stop them pursuing this strategy.

Yes, the marriage of convenience ensures that both General McChrystal and Karzai get what they want, at least, in the short term, and in the longer term it means that the United States has ensured its next "Vietnam", while Mr Karzai will no doubt prefer the option taken by  Nguyễn Văn Thiệu to Najibullah's fate. Yes, expect to see the exiled President of Afghanistan cutting a dash in Paris or Rome in the not too distant future and expect to see "Uncle Sam" crowning his war on the Hindukush and a less than orderly withdrawal than the one undertaken by the Soviets in 1989.

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