02
Nov
09

On air: Is this the election where everyone lost?

hamidIn the last few minutes, Hamid Karzai has been declared the president of Afghanistan. The second round is also off which is no surprise after Abdullah Abdullah pulled out over the weekend. So there we go – over two months since the first poll, we have a winner. But is that really a word you’d use to describe any of the interested parties?

Those of you who support the US and NATO make the case that we all had something to win or lose in this election. A democratic Afghanistan makes the world safer is the argument in its simplest form.

But whichever way you view the current situation, there are clearly many interested parties. I’d list them as…

– Afghans. Is your country safer or more democratic than before? After, the multiple allegations of fraud in the first round, can they be confident that their wishes are represented? Do they have a President whose creditability is undermined by the process that brought him to power?

– Americans. Eight years of lives lost and money invested, show no sign of coming to an end. We don’t know if President Obama will increase troops numbers, but we’re sure he won’t decrease them.

– the Taliban. Its fighters continue to contest the outside world’s right to dictate what happens in Afghanistan. It also wants an Islamic state, and has lost many lives in the past eight years (though how many is very difficult to quantify).

– NATO members. If your country is one, it will certainly have given money, and possibly expertise and troops on the ground as well. It’s the organisation’s biggest military operation.

– the UN. Ban-Ki Moon is in Afghanistan now. Nothing illustrates better the huge investment that his organisation has made in this election.

– Those who want an Islamic state in Afghanistan. One school of thought is that if the Taliban succeed it’ll assert a Muslim population’s right to order its society according to its religion, and will also refute the right of outside powers to interfere in a country’s affairs.

– Those who want a democracy. Its better for Afghans and their human rights, and it’s better for the world as al Qaeda will not be able to operate out of Afghanistan.

– Those who want the troops out now. There are better ways of tackling al Qaeda and the Taliban.

– Those who want the troops to stay until the Taliban have been defeated. The job must be finished…

Unless you feel Afghanistan has no relevance to your life, you will fall into at least one of the categories above. Has your cause been furthered by this election?

…AND HERE’S KRUPA’S POST FROM EARLIERIt’s the election that everyone appears to have lost. A president with little legitimacy and  an international community which has failed at its own rules. The only likely winner of Afghanistan’s non-election seems to be the Taliban.

“I want to be an example for future elections,” said Dr. Abdullah when he stepped down from the run off election. “I want to respect the people who lost their lives while voting in the first round. I want it to be known that no one should tamper with the vote of the people, or use their power to have their way.”  Reality is thought, that most people knew Dr. Abdullah was not going win. Was he just a token candidate? And if a  second round is only going to lead to a security nightmare and increased political limbo, has Abdullah Abdullah  done his country a favour by pulling out?

Karzai appears to have won the right-off elections by default so the US just has to learn to work with who they are stuck with says this editorial.

Is it time to accept that this has been a one horse race without a winner?


86 Responses to “On air: Is this the election where everyone lost?”


  1. November 2, 2009 at 11:37

    Abdullah Abdullah made repeated calls for transparency and accountability after the first round. He cited terms and conditions for joining a coalition government, but Karzai retorted: “He is hard working and welcome to “work for us.”
    Abdullah Abdullah is a moderating force in Afghanistan. His grievance is genuine.
    No one wants a second round. It costs too much. Britain suffered 22 fatalities during the first round. US is withholding further troop reinforcements.
    Either Karzai climbs down or risk suspension of his Administration until a solution is found.

  2. 2 Crispo, Uganda
    November 2, 2009 at 11:45

    I guess you can see what the western, or should I also add American version of democracy has made Afghanistan to be? All other things aside, suffice to say, the Americans have failed in every arena in afghanistan.

  3. 3 Craig
    November 2, 2009 at 12:03

    So, Crispo, do you think that Afghanistan was a paradise before the Western powers got involved? Maybe you misunderstand what Taleban rule meant for Afghans and why they were so happy to see them gone.

    Abdullah Abdullah has pulled out of a run off he was never going to win, but has made capital out of the fact that a run off was to be had. My guess is that he will turn up in Kharzais new government in a Senior role.

    True, the elections were not perfect, and not necessarily the right form of democracy for Afghanistan, where a more federal system would probably make sense, but it is progress compared to rule by misinterpretation of religion.

    • 4 Najibullah Noorzai
      November 3, 2009 at 08:00

      Craig, I accpet that Afghanistan was not a paradise before the Western powers involvement but you are not in picture that the Western power is involved in Afghanistan’s affair since decades not now and all it has been is the reason of their involvement. The world is now a unipolar now and the superme power can do what ever it want.
      The election drama and all other plots are the game in the scene and as for as the taliban is concern, you just go through the history of Taliban? Who they are and how they emerged? Do you think that they are real Afghan or Real Muslim, I doubt it is a big mistake of all the westerners that Relates Taliban with Afghanistan.
      Afghanistan has been the caualty of the West and it is their responsibility to form the government there and let Afghan to run their own government.

  4. 5 anu_d
    November 2, 2009 at 12:13

    Abdullah’s voluntary withdrawl is a betrayal of the populations of Afganistan of the magnitiude……..matched only by Mir Hassan Mosavi’s quite crawl into his shell in Iran.

    That Karzai is an uncontested winner is not his fault.

    The sudden and suspicious climb-down of the challangers to the incumbents….. in these islamic republics is baffling….and atleast in Afganistan US, UN and Westerners having a controling hand have a huge answeribility.

    a_D

  5. 6 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    November 2, 2009 at 12:46

    I highly doubt that Abdulla has voluntarily bowed out. This looks like insider deal and unfortunately it has legimized the Taliban as the only official opposition. Probably they have told him to wait for another term.
    The first round was flawed and so is this new turn. Afghanistan then is still in squre one because it is not until a successful regime change that one can conclude that it is a flourishing democracy.
    In the final analysis, it looks as if there is totally a new definition of democracy currently exported from America. It is not just Afghanistan. America and its alies do not allow other people to have their say. It is not enough to say that the current cause for Afghanistan is now a sham. Take not too that the ground work for the next presidential elections in America have been laid because this will be one of the topical issues of the campaign.

  6. 7 Sheel
    November 2, 2009 at 13:08

    I consider his act for pulling out of the elections as partriotic act, a self determined act for the sake of his own country, I hope Afghans will find lessons from it, But the fight agaisnt Taliban is not going to end in the near future. Afghans people strength and force will only help them to elminate from the Talibans. The war of terriorism isnt the responsiblity of a single person.

  7. 8 Nigel
    November 2, 2009 at 13:10

    ……..without a winner all Afghans are losers and the view that Afghanistan was worse off before under Taliban is a non-argument. The issue is the failure of Western promises to make it better. By not listening and understanding and rather imposing unreal and unsustainable Western political, religious and cultural values in a country of diverse but but proud and defiant people the West has failed! Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has learned about political gamesmanship from his Western tutors very well indeed………unfortunately in a way that does not help the Western government’s image with their own voters which is what this is really all about anyhow.

  8. 9 JanB
    November 2, 2009 at 13:35

    I remember reading that supporters of ALL candidates committed fraud, including Abdullah’s, so he can’t really claim the moral high-ground on that one.

    Then there is the fact that Abdullah waited this long before he pulled out.
    Was he forced (by threats), or is he a clever political fox who waited for just the right time to galvanise anti-Karzai sentiments among the Afghan people and the Americans?
    While it is clear Abdullah would not have won this election anyway, he is probably already preparing for the next elections, which may happen a lot sooner than the 5 years it normally takes, one can wonder if Afghanistan really can afford such political escapades, but their politicians don’t seem to be bothered by that question.

    Either way Afghan politics are seriously dysfunctional and even Abdullah has not promised to change the current Islamic constitution into a truly democratic one, so the question remains, what are we fighting for over there, isn’t it time to leave?

    BTW, contrary to popular opinion, Abdullah, not Karzai was the preferred candidate for the United States because he is better educated, has more political experience, is more moderate, backs a NATO troop surge and is believed to be less attached to his ancestral clan(s).

  9. 10 Ibrahim in UK
    November 2, 2009 at 13:41

    So the electoral committee committed widespread fraud and gave the election victory to Karzai. Yet they are allowed to stay on and oversee the re-run? What’s to say they won’t be fraudulent again, only more subtely than before to avoid detection. A kangaroo election merely for the sake of being seen to have elections. That benefits no one and fools no one.
    In any case, whoever wins “the election” is irrelevant, the country is occupied and it is the occupiers who call the shots.

  10. 11 Linda from Italy
    November 2, 2009 at 14:11

    I think the various Western countries involved in this whole debacle now don’t have a leg to stand on, it was debateable if they even had one before. If they had intervened and sacked Karzai, they would have been accused of running the show, because they have decided to keep out it they will be accused of (even greater) hypocrisy for not doing more to uphold honest democracy. This whole venture has gone disastrously wrong, mainly as a result of the Iraq distraction, and I think the US et al. should think of calling it a day and defending their own borders, and those of their real friends, nearer home.

  11. 12 Linda from Italy
    November 2, 2009 at 14:12

    As far as the people of Afghanistan are concerned, they have suffered and will continue to suffer I’m afraid, but I think the solution can only lie in their hands. One of the reasons many people would prefer the Taliban to the current situation is that their, granted Stone Age, form of keeping order, did at least make them in less fear of their lives, provided they toe the line of course. Regardless how oppressive this sort of religious fundamentalism may be, it is at least perceived as less corrupt – echoes here of Hamas and Gaza. If you take the Afghan culture, particularly in the more rural environments, the sort of oppression of women and violent forms of “justice” meted out is down to their own particular cultural interpretation of Islam, and they should be left alone to evolve out of this, or not, as they wish.

  12. November 2, 2009 at 14:23

    I am disappointed that Mr. Abdullah has opted out of the re-run polls. The fact that his (and the peoples’) protest about the flaws in the first round voting were acknowledged leading to a recount, and a re-run scheduled clearly shows that the Afghan electoral system is not in favour of fraudulent elections and will do all in its power to correct the flaws discovered. He should have waited for the re-run and then seek to challenge irregularities like he did in the first round.
    With the challenge from the Taliban, there is a limit to what President Karzai could accomplish, now with the re-run stalled, a crisis of legitimacy is looming, this might just crumble the little democracy they have and return the country under a firm Taliban grip.
    An unattractive but perhaps viable option is to re-play the Zimbabwean ZANU-PF/ MDC scenario in Afghanistan; bring on board Mr. Abdullah (who wouldn’t have won the re-run be it in a free and fair or a flawed election, anyway) as Vice President and see how far the 2 can go together.

  13. November 2, 2009 at 14:39

    I would repeat a couple of points that I made before. The Americans and thier ill-advised allies have no business in trying to impose western democracy on a Muslim country. Democracy is a western concept that has evolved over 100s of years. Under it elected representatives make laws for their people. Muslims believe that all necessary laws to govern are already ordained by Allah, as contained in their holy book. Therefore, manmade laws are repugnant to Islam. Any attempt by the West to set up a western style democracy is seen by Muslim masses as an attempt by the “infidels” to wipe out Islam. So, democracy will NOT take root in a Muslim country in a million years without first wiping out Islam, which is not going to happen.

    Secondly, there is absolutely no justification for the war in Afghanistan. Taleban is a local fundamentalist organization, which has never attacked any foreign country. It has never been a threat to the West. Given that Al Qaeda used Afghanistan to train for the 9-11 attack, the destruction of training camps in that country was the right thing to do. It is open to Al Qaeda to train elsewhere in the world. Therefore, the focus on Taleban which had hitherto confined its activities to Afghanistan is now spreading to Pakistan as a revenge attack. This will destabilise Pakistan, which, thanks to the US, is likely to fall to fundamentalists.

  14. November 2, 2009 at 14:41

    The world of “what ifs” is playing out in full force in Afghanistan… what if there had been a run-off election, what if western forces stay, what if they go… Flavoring every point of view is the fact that George Bush’s “what if we take out Iraq since we have won in Afghanistan” has shown its result and it hasn’t been pretty, whether in Afghanistan itself, or Pakistan, or India, or Iraq, or terror acts around the world. The reality is that run-off or no, the saga of this Afghan election illustrates that Afghan culture controls the ground and no matter which officials an election hands us to work with, it is the culture that really needs to be accepted as the partner that will make or break our efforts there. In a nutshell, I don’t think it matters whether we address Karzi or Abdulla as President, since the culture of warlords, violence and intimidation is the same under each.

  15. 18 T
    November 2, 2009 at 14:45

    What’s even worse in this case? Nobody’s going to contest this. Obama, Hillary and Gordon Brown will all say “we must respect the Afghan govt.’s decision, etc.”. Also, if Karzai was forced out, would anyone else blindly obey orders from Washington? Probably not..

  16. 19 Nate, Portland OR
    November 2, 2009 at 14:51

    I’d say somebody won: the Taliban, al Qaeda and their idle-rich donors from the Muslim world. They’ll claim its a great victory for Islam. I don’t particularly understand Islam, so who am I to say they aren’t right?

    In any case, whoever wins “the election” is irrelevant, the country is occupied and it is the occupiers who call the shots.

    The occupiers bear some responsibility for the mess of Afghanistan, but the US is hardly calling the shots. The Taliban seem to be calling quite a few shots, and Karzai and the various warlords and drug runners seem to be calling quite a few as well. Are they simply forces of nature, with no agency (and hence no responsibility)of their own?

    I’ve been reading “Yertle the Turtle” to my wee one lately. The US reminds me of King Yertle, ruler of all he sees (“I’m King of a cow! And I’m king of a mule!….”). I suspect we’ll be suffering King Yertle’s fate soon.

  17. 20 Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    November 2, 2009 at 14:57

    The world did not lose. We got a fractured skull that cost billions and set another dangerous precedent apart from showing up the United Nations as a bunch of serial mismanagers.

    Shame on Hamid Karzai. He knows his victory and 5 more years is stolen. How do you lead a lawless and God-less land without credibility?

    The Afghans who stole this ‘election’ and support Karzai are a disgrace to Afghanistan and the Muslim Religion.

  18. 21 gary
    November 2, 2009 at 15:03

    I think Dr. Abdullah has done his country a disservice by not contending the election, because an unheard voice will not change folks’ actions. If he feels that Mr. Karzai has stolen the election, then how does absence give positive example? The way forward is always, “Contend against evil,” not, “Ignore evil.”
    g

  19. November 2, 2009 at 15:10

    It’s hard to imagine that Afghanistan can be a democracy overnight. There are radical Afghans like the Taliban who consider that democracy is un-Islamic and the supreme law is the Sharia.

    Perhaps, the withdrawal of Abdullah Abdullah from a rerun can save the stable countries from political conflicts that no elected president can put an end to easily.

    Maybe we can say that it’s better for Afghanistan to have an election, in which there was no clear winner than not to have any elections at all. Presidents come and go. What matters is the survival of Afghanistan as an independent country, instead of remaining a base of foreign forces without which it can plunge into further instability.

  20. November 2, 2009 at 15:11

    Allow me to add another irrefutable fact: It is the cherished will of every true Muslim to oneday live in a full Islamic state in peace with the rest of the world. Therefore, it follows that every Muslim country in the world will one day become a full fledged Islamic state. No power in the world can change this destiny.

    Therefore, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are futile and they would only cause bad blood between the Islamic world and the West. At best it is ill-founded and at the worst it is a blatant lie and political chicanery to claim that defeating the Taleban and establishing democracy in Afghanistan would somehow make the streets safer in London and Washington.

    The solution is for America to withdraw its occupying military forces from every Muslim country and to stop meddling in their affairs. This has been repeatedly cited by suicide bombers as one of their major reasons for targeting the US and its allies. Therefore, terrorist attacks are not global but targeted against specific countries. So, we can stop this carnage and make this world peaceful.

  21. 24 Gary Paudler
    November 2, 2009 at 15:29

    The world needs a new definition for “democracy”. In Afghanistan and the US it currently means little more than a few people showing-up to vote once in a while which lets the politicians pretend that they’re representing the people.
    The world also needs a new definition for Afghanistan which will just include Kabul.
    Let’s call the rest of the country “Talibanistan” or “Occupationstan” and then everybody can feel good about providing (relative) freedom and stability to Afghanistan.
    I don’t think that any amount of force will solve the problem. Spend the money, instead, on providing education, water, sanitation, shelter and enough basic security to allow the people to avail themselves of those things. Put Walid Karzai in jail – showing the Afghan people that corruption and crime will not be tolerated, and let Hamid know that his days are numbered if he fails to do everything in his power to create a stabile, accountable government.

  22. 25 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    November 2, 2009 at 15:47

    How can anyone honestly understand those quick responses of congratulations to Karzai? This automatically shows they are coming from the partisans of this new power arrangement. I think a better explanation needed to be given so that we are not left in the dark.
    The elections needed to continue because Abdulla was not the only other candidate. It would have been wise to find out what the ordinary Afghan feels about this democracy in referendumlike manner.

  23. November 2, 2009 at 15:50

    Nigeria was given a Westminster style democracy, which turned out to be a total disaster.If democracy is to come to Afghanistan it has to be an Afghan democracy,and not White house or Westminster one.In other words:- “Government by the People for the People”.The Afghan people.If it takes root the Afghans will sort it out for themselves,after all everyone wants to be free and happy.

  24. November 2, 2009 at 15:57

    It’s hard to imagine that Afghanistan can be a democracy overnight. There are radical Afghans like the Taliban who consider that democracy is un-Islamic and the supreme law is the Sharia.

    Perhaps, the withdrawal of Abdullah Abdullah from a rerun can save the stable parts of Afghanistan from political conflicts that no elected president can put an end to easily.

    Maybe we can say that it’s better for Afghanistan to have had an election, in which there was no clear winner than not to have had any elections at all. Presidents come and go. What matters is the survival of Afghanistan as an independent country, instead of remaining a base for foreign forces without which it can plunge into further instability.

  25. November 2, 2009 at 16:11

    My Cartesian logic is inadequate for even classifying the data of the problem posed let alone formulating an opinion. Sorry.

  26. 29 Laura Golakeh
    November 2, 2009 at 16:13

    Altough there was no outright winner,I think this election is worth celebrating for and it has shown the world that Afghanistan is now on the road to peace and stability.

  27. 30 Tom K in Mpls
    November 2, 2009 at 16:31

    If you want a democracy, this was a weak victory. Simply because the election was acknowledged by all parties, including the Taliban, makes it a victory. The fact that it was such a mess points out how weak it was. It could be a start if it gains support from the locals. That is the key issue here, what do the locals really want?

    The whole thing here is to stabilize the region so the locals can establish what they want without armed groups having a strong influence. Anything else will fail. The only thing certain so far is the people generally do not want the Taliban. So no matter what else happens, most of the world will not see their worst case scenario if we give the locals time and support.

  28. 31 Tom D Ford
    November 2, 2009 at 16:36

    If democracy is what the West wants in Afghanistan they’re going to have to overthrow the anti-democratic Karzai and start over.

    So we can add one more count against the corrupt Conservative Republican Bush/Cheney/PNAC administration and the corrupt governments they enabled. They failed in Afghanistan and left the incredible mess for their successors.

  29. 32 David in Berkeley
    November 2, 2009 at 16:38

    The US offensive in Iraq garnered little UN or ally support and, as we now know, for very good reason.

    But if Afghanistan’s state is truly important for world security, it is absolutely time for this to be a United Nations effort, not a US war.

    Taliban destabilizing Pakistan?
    Al Qaeda terrorizing Spain, UK, Indonesia, and others?

    This is not an Obama and US situation, and it’s time for US first, and the world, next, to see this and act accordingly.

  30. 33 Mohammed Ali
    November 2, 2009 at 16:45

    This is an election in which the west has compromise democracy and selected who they want to be president of Afghanistan.

  31. 34 Tony from Singapura
    November 2, 2009 at 17:06

    There is no such thing as instant democracy, the situation that exists right now is not bad. I think it is better than the Zimbabwi power-sharing fiasco.

    Let the democratic institutions develope over time. Abdullah will have another chance next round.

    Countries wishing to influence Afganistan will need to realize that its got to be a long road.

    How many years has it taken to move from dictatorship to reasonable democracy in Indonesia and that without an armed insurgency ?

  32. 35 Elias
    November 2, 2009 at 17:11

    Most caretainly not the word I would use to describe a winner!!. Afganistan is a country that is unique in bribery, corruption and crooked ways, to try to bring about democracy there is like trying to climb Mount Everest on one leg.
    To have countries of western soldiers fight and die there is most rediculas for no matter what may or may not be achieved there, they will simply go back to their old habits, customs and ways. The crookedness of the recent elections is proof enough. The best course is either to fight this war lock stock and barrel militarilly or withdraw foreign soldiers and support Pakistan in military equipment and financially for they alone are in the position to fight this war against the people they know and understand.

  33. 36 Tony from Singapura
    November 2, 2009 at 17:13

    We cannot say that Taliban rule would be islamic rule. They have no standard – production of opium producing poppies for illicite human consumption is against the teachings of Islam.

    Lets see now, they will punish people for drinking alcohol , listening to music , showing some ankle- but they produce opium for human consumption.

    Hypocracy is not Islam.

  34. 37 Alan in Arizona
    November 2, 2009 at 17:18

    We (every non-afgani) need to pull out. Stop wasting the precious lives that can never be replaced. Give them a few different books on running a country and leave them to fix their own country or not. Surround it to control the opium trade and border traffic and leave the internal problems to whoever can take control.
    Let them grow crops to feed their country. Stop supporting them. If they can’t deal with it, maybe the masses will do away with all the corruption in government no matter who it is.

  35. November 2, 2009 at 17:24

    Election result is a farce.Withdrawal by the candidaqte has enabled Karzai to win- he has made adeal ala Zardari.
    Democracy has lost out.
    Afganistan may sliding to be another Pakistan.

  36. 39 Ronald Almeida
    November 2, 2009 at 17:33

    I suppose it is a democratic opinion that majority rule propagates individual freedom. How can individual freedom ever be systemised, when we know, no two ever see eye to eye? Can your truth ever be mine?

    Churchil said that Democracy was not perfect but the best we have. Bernard Shaw on the other hand said that nine out of ten times the majority is wrong.

    Can not humanity with all its progress find a better solution or are we too sure ours is the best?

  37. 40 Will, British Columbia
    November 2, 2009 at 17:34

    I don’t believe we were ever in Afganistan for the purpose of spreading democracy so its no real suprise that this grand experiment has put Karzai firmly ahold of the reigns of power. Most modern democratic countries have been born in the ashes of revolution or war and I truly believe that the west is not ready to see a genuinely democratic Afganistan.

  38. 41 John in Salem
    November 2, 2009 at 17:39

    Karzai is clearly the winner here – he knows that the U.S., like most other Western nations, has a long history of supporting illegitimate governments when it’s own interests are involved.
    It is also clearly a no-win situation for Obama – he can’t pull us out and let the Taliban set up another nation-sized training base for al-Qaeda, and he can’t commit the number of troops it would take to finish the job without losing the support of his own party in Congress and of the public if it doesn’t work quickly enough. The irony is that if we were to get lucky and kill bin-Laden today it wouldn’t change a thing.
    I saw a good bumper sticker yesterday that read, “Quagmire Accomplished”. Kind of sums it up, don’t you think?

  39. 42 Dennis@Tc3
    November 2, 2009 at 17:40

    Krupa:

    Yes, this election looks like the one where everyone will be a losing party…..

    =Dennis Junior=

  40. November 2, 2009 at 17:47

    By withdrawing Abdullah-Abdullah has indeed handed the Presidency on a platter to President Karzai. He cannot complain any further. A second round would have given him the opportunity to test his real popularity as everyone would have been looking out for irregularities. By deciding not to stand in the second round, he forfeited his right to the covetous post. He should stand shoulder to shoulder with President Karzai in their common fight against the militants.

  41. 44 Mansur Dawaki
    November 2, 2009 at 17:52

    Your grouping excluded main stream muslims whose brothers and sisters are killed and maimed daily, and who have the urge to go to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or elsewhere to participate in their emancipation from the West and its coward, sky-fighting army; as well as its imposed hypocritical democracy that is alien and abhoring to the muslim way of life. No America and NATO should not leave, they should be shamefacedly forced to leave like Soviet of the past, and then all this demon-craze and its westernized-puppet supporters will vanish like they did before.

  42. 45 Bert
    November 2, 2009 at 17:59

    I read that the Afghan Army is 80 percent illiterate. Honestly, is democracy even possible in such circumstances?

    With such a high illiteracy rate, one ought to expect that people will flock to whoever appears to be a “leader.” It’s not easy to question the legitimacy of such “leaders,” when one can’t readily search out and discover other points of view.

    Religious fundamentalism thrives in such conditions. Democracy requires a healthy level of skepticism among the population, and a need more for “representation” than for “leadership.” I don’t know that Afghanistan is ready for western style democracy, and it pains me to think that even President Obama has embarked on a no-end-in-sight nationbuilding program.

    In spite of this, though, one wonders how the Taliban can possibly gain the public trust, when they openly threaten people with their lives if they dare go to the polls. Does it take literacy to see through that?

  43. 46 Dave in Florida
    November 2, 2009 at 18:00

    Let’s be realistic here. The U.S. does not fight for freedom – it fights for capitalism, which it regards as economic freedom. Obama is no different than any other president in that regard.

  44. 47 William Beeby
    November 2, 2009 at 18:11

    The whole election saga has been a sick joke.As your questions asks, yes there are only losers involved here and on all sides.Many Afghans see our Western idea of democracy as an imposition to get them under our control. their idea of democracy consists of village and regional tribal meetings to sort things out and they have done it this way for thousands of years. I doubt if Al quaeda actually exists and certainly I do not believe thatBin Laden or his cohorts are still alive. The Taliban will fight to the death whilst we occupy their lands, when the CIA funded them to fight the Russians they were known as the Mudlahadeen but the USA would rather forget that and we in Britain just go along with what they say.Karzai started out as a stooge and a plant by USA and does not rule outside of Kabul anyway. So yes we are all losers in the Great Game replay of yesteryear.

    Bill Beeby Kent England.

  45. 48 Sheel
    November 2, 2009 at 18:16

    Well, Afghans have to decide the fate of their own country, They dont need foreign forces to make them decide. The presence of the foreign troops is making the situtation wrose in Afghanistan, Afghans are not able to trust their own capabilities and they are not realising that they are gradually losing their own nation their own identity. Foreign troops are just wasting their time, money and life in Afghanistan and stil they havent achievied anything for 8 years. Let the Afghans realise that the preservation of their identity, to safeguard their own nation lies on own their own hands rather than depending on the Foreign Powers.

  46. 49 Livia Varju
    November 2, 2009 at 18:18

    Karzai has won even though his supporters cheated. Abdullah had to drop out as Karzai refused to relieve from their functions those who were responsible for the wide-spread election fraud. Sad times for Afghanistan and for those who tried to help in creating a more just society. The population went to vote in great numbers even though their lives were threatened, and they were cheated. The extent of corruption and lawlessness has been brought home to me by a programme on Swiss TV, Temps Present, a few days ago. A team of reporters and a photographer went to Kaboul to see how aid money has been spent and they discovered most of it has gone into the pockets of people in Government or those close to it. We saw rows of brand new fabulous palatial houses with several storeys belonging to Government officials, costing up to a million dollars. The names of owners were secret. The team tried to find out about the reported 640 schools US aid had built, and no one could give an address. At last they found one in the countryside, with a big billboard and coloured architect’s drawing of the school,with not one new wall and the girls studying in a tent. Meanwhile the population is poor and often famished. This kind of corruption will drive people into the arms of the Taliban. Distressing. If fraud and corruption and opium production are not eliminated, there is no hope.

  47. 50 Crispo, Uganda
    November 2, 2009 at 18:41

    Craig, thanks for your concern. I’ve not and am not asserting that afghanistan was a paradise before the Americans came. To answer you simply, the one thing lacking in the minds of these ‘AMERICAN LIBERATORS’ is that, they want to restructure a whole society as per their measurements. Quite frankly, is it feasible? A country, people, nation, that took centuries to perfect, (if its perfect anyway) can it be restructured and re-cultured in a few years? Why doesn’t the US, take into consideration the cultural, religious and political aspects of a country before embarking on establishing their own version of ‘democracy’?

    The glaring fact is, if anything is to be achieved in Afghanistan, America, NATO, and other foreign interests have to begin all over again. Such an election is not even worth mention in a public forum. Are we now interested in shambles?

  48. 51 Shannon in Ohio
    November 2, 2009 at 19:00

    It was clear long before this latest debacle that the U.S. had failed completely in Afghanistan. It promised the people (especially Afghan women) more than it could ever deliver, and failed to listen to experts who warned that trying to westernize a collection of warring tribes was an absurd notion to begin with. I blame G.W. Bush, who sent the bulk of the long-suffering U.S. Army to fight a completely needless war in Iraq, while leaving a handful of outnumbered troops to try and provide security for a country whose culture they did not understand. No matter what President Obama does, this is nothing but an ongoing tragedy in slow motion.

  49. 52 jens
    November 2, 2009 at 19:04

    in face of all these accusations against the USA, I would like to ask the critics; where is the support of the islamic world, against the tabliban and for it’s suppressed and abused muslim brothers and sisters. sure not all of the 1.3 billion muslims are in support a such a brutal and inhumane groupe of fundamentalists.

  50. 53 Kat in Vancouver
    November 2, 2009 at 19:12

    As someone living in Canada, where we have contributed to the Afghan War since day 1, it is clear that Hamid Karzai not a true leader by popular election. This election only serves to try to legitimize an illegitimate government. Let’s face it Afghanistan is a failed state and I don’t really believe that the US or Canada will be able to stabilize it.

  51. November 2, 2009 at 19:19

    This rapt attention to the central “leadership” of Afghanistan is a charade to present an appearance of progress toward “democracy” to justify continued US interference there for its own hidden interests. In truth, this is a society necessarily fragmented by geography and infrastructure limitations, and largely controlled by local governments.

    The true US agenda includes hegemony in central Asia through installation of a compliant leadership. Among other benefits, this will facilitate extraction of oil and gas from nearby sources and better control of the opium industry.

  52. 55 Charley in Portland, Oregon
    November 2, 2009 at 19:22

    The only winner in this election is the Taliban.

    As noted by General McChrystal, the current government has failed to provide services or to prevent corruption in many areas.

    Meanwhile, the Quetta-Shura Taliban have very wisely created their own department for investigating & preventing corruption among their “shadow governors”. This strengthens their appeal, despite their harsh tactics.

    Beyond that question, the US public “might” support a long fight in support of an honest & efficient Afghan government; but we’ve seen in Vietnam what happens when we spend years & thousands of lives propping up a corrupt & incompetent regime.

    The USA needs to force Karzai to clean up his administration, or else we should leave.

  53. 56 Mr Brown
    November 2, 2009 at 19:23

    I’m left scratching my head wonder how much influence the US played in Dr Abdullah’s decision to drop out.

    The overwhelming irony here is that I thought that free elections & democracy were the main reasons why the US is now occupying Afghanistan.

    -Mr Brown in California

  54. 57 Paulo da Mata
    November 2, 2009 at 19:23

    Hi from Brazil.

    My name is Paulo and I guess that in spite of Mr Abdulla´s dropping out, there should be an election on VOTING on YES or NO for Mr. Kerzai. Then, if 51 % were pro-Kerzai, that would be fair to declare him as the President, otherwise, another run-off could be applied.

  55. 58 Greg Slater
    November 2, 2009 at 19:23

    The Obama administration justified his delay in deciding whether to send in 40000 more troops on the basis that the government wasn’t legitimate. Now the second election is cancelled, there has therefore been no legitimate election, but Obama is going to immediately call and congratulate Karzai and sanctify the very election he declared fraudulent. So is he going to make his decision now? If not, what will he use as an excuse now?

  56. 59 Kat in Vancouver
    November 2, 2009 at 19:24

    The only issue that I continue to have is the fact that we in the West are forcing democracy onto a failed state. Where are the demographics to support the view that democracy is the best possible government in Afghanistan? How many polls have been performed? Where do you find this data? The fact is that the United States is democratizing the region rather than the Afghan people choosing for themselves.

  57. 60 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    November 2, 2009 at 19:25

    Question to the guests:

    With all of the tribal differences, how are they going to find an ideal candidate for President?

  58. 61 Gregg Greene - Eugene OR
    November 2, 2009 at 19:26

    Perhaps, if we had done things right when we first went into Afghanistan, there could have been a more “successful” result with an actual democracy and few and disorganized Taliban. But, as the saying goes, you can’t put the genie back into the bottle. I seriously doubt, after all these years, with Afghanies tired of the violence and instablility, imbedded corruption in the Afghan government, and a withering will with the American public, that any of the lofty goals can be achieved. So I question the wisdom of sending additional troops. Of course, that’s easy for me to say, the real losers in all of the prior incompetence are the Afghany people.

  59. 62 Tom K in Mpls
    November 2, 2009 at 19:27

    Wow, this is a great show. It helps to find my views are what is generally supported by the locals ( yes my horn is blowing ) but I’m learning a lot listening. It’s sad that the global politicians, including those in the UN, are holding up plans and money until they see ‘justification’. By then it is too late.

  60. 63 Greg Slater
    November 2, 2009 at 19:29

    Mark just said by phone that from his experience there are “all these fractal tribes that mistrust the federal government” . Sounds exactly like the United States! Mabe democracy isn’t right for the US.

  61. 64 Tim Dean
    November 2, 2009 at 19:30

    @ Shannon in Ohio

    I don’t recall any Afghani leader saying they would re-write Sharia law to accomodate western sensibilities re womens rights?

    Must have been something you’picked-up’ from western newscasts selling the war in a way designed to appeal directly to you.

  62. 65 N.J.
    November 2, 2009 at 19:35

    Pretty much a mess. I am from the U.S. but I have never ascribed to the idea of microwave Democracy. It took several hundred years to get it going in the American Colonies and then several hundred to get it running on partial cylinders. The greatest irony is that the U.S. never directly sought world hegemony. Not in the sense of the Napoleonic Wars, anyway. We never gathered armies and said “let take over Moscow and everything else on the way” This happened, like many things do, by a series of random and accidental event after random accidental event.

    The idea of “transplanting” democracy has to be the dumbest idea yet. Even when Europe tried to develop democracies, it ended up in two civilization destroying wars, that simply limited Europe’s ability to be a world power, which it was less than a century ago.

    No, I think that cultures have to develop their own individual ways of governing themselves. In Afghanistan which seems to have recently taken the massive leap from the 13th to the 15th century, the idea of transplanting democracy and democratic institutes is madness. It is a replay of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”

  63. 66 don howell
    November 2, 2009 at 19:40

    The usa is a republic. We have 50 states. We do not even elect a president by majority vote.

  64. 67 Alan in Arizona
    November 2, 2009 at 19:44

    Greg, I don’t think it sounds like the United States. We don’t address mistrust as a tribe. We address our mistrust as individual citizens, judging our politicians on their merit and actions, because we are free to do so, without having to hide behind a tribe for safety.
    As for Democracy, we still have it better than most. The only problem I see is our Electoral College which nullifies our individual votes for President.
    With effort the Afghanistan people can get it right. But they are the ones that must do it. Abdula Abdula should never have dropped out. He should have demand more oversight and checks and balances.

  65. 68 rob z.
    November 2, 2009 at 19:48

    To expect a western style government to work in the middle east is wrong.The history and culture does not reflect our western values.
    I say pull-out let the chips fall where they may,let Suadi Arabia ;they have more money and more of a security interest in the out come than the west.

    • 69 Bert
      November 2, 2009 at 20:07

      Saudi Arabia? Arabs running Afghanistan?

      That will certainly never work. Afghanis are not Arab. Even if they are Moslem.

      • 70 Greg Slater
        November 3, 2009 at 12:16

        I see. The idea of Arabs intervening in their own regional conflict is totally absurd, while an occupation by Americans from the other side of the planet, who are as completely clueless about Afghanistan as they are about Iraq, is totally reasonable. Nice chauinism.

  66. 71 ibrahim
    November 2, 2009 at 19:49

    they might have come to conclusion but it was NOT a democratic one i am disappointed in obama for trying to wipe his hands clean of this issue Karzai is not the right person for that country to my knowledge he is corrupt.

  67. 72 John LaGrua/New York
    November 2, 2009 at 20:19

    From folly to farce! It is long overdue for the West ,particularly the US to end it’s delusion that it can remake Afganistan or any other country in it’s own image.We have neither the power or the right to meddle .Ther courageous decision is to exit gracefully while calculating the response to reality of having to recognize that an active military presence is counterproductive., Karzai is propt up by US policy which will bring more death and destruction and waste billions of dollars on a fools errand.. It would take enormous courage and conviction for Obama to acknowledge the futility of continuing a war begun by Bush and his band of megalomaniacs which cannot be won .Generals don’t get promoted by saying it can’t be done but Presidents can show wisdom in recognizing limitations and accepting reality .Afganistan is the Scylla and Charybdice of the 21St century and Obama should steer clear of this disaster and ignore the Siren’s song of the war hawks who will lead him to ruin.

    • 73 Bert
      November 2, 2009 at 23:55

      While I agree with what you say, I would not pin the blame on George W for this one entirely. In fact, even Candidate Obama seemed quite convinced that the action in Afghanistan had to be continued and emphasized. And, if you recall, he even made some rather hawkish comments about intervening in Pakistan.

      So, this zeal for intervention comes from both parties. It is a measure of elitism or arrogance that it seems very difficult for US officials to shake off.

      Of recent prsidents, I would say that both George Bush senior and Bill Clinton got it about right, with respect to the first Gulf War and Bosnia. So, there’s nbo easy correlation with a poltical party.

  68. 74 Kevin in Belgium
    November 2, 2009 at 21:18

    30 years at war….corruption…president in power for 8 years already……fraudulent elections….western powers saying “ok”…..”insurgency” around the capital. Vietnam in 1970 or Afghanistan in 2009?
    I see not so much difference. In 1971 the Americans started the pull-out. Within 3 years Saigon fell.
    The fact is that people will only fight to defend a government that they believe is legitimate. Karzai should arrange with Abdullah some power sharing arrangement, or anything that helps to legitimize the regime.
    Thieu and his cronies ended up selling pizzas or running grocery stores in America and Britain. The people endured misery and sacrificed their lives trying to escape.
    Everyone lost in Vietnam.
    Learn from history!

    • 75 jack
      November 3, 2009 at 03:40

      I worked during the1980s as a psychological program director and school district consultant with the largest Vietnam refugee population and the most impoverished minority community in the US. Most had narrowly escaped Vietnam at great risk and cost of all their assets, many facing pirates crossing the South China Sea, and spent 6 or 7 years in refugee camps where the adults had no work and the kids had little or no school while awaiting emigration to the US. Enrolling in US schools with initially little English, the children worked hard and quickly began to excel. It’s little wonder they defeated us, and have also come to forgive us despite losing some 3 million while we lost 58,000.

      But no, we never learn because governments operate by psychopathic principles and psychopaths are legendary for their failures to learn from experience.

  69. 76 jens
    November 2, 2009 at 21:37

    @ rob z,

    this would require a stabile saudia arabia with not interest in fundamentalist islam…..it is neither stabile nor dissociated from fundamentalist islam (whaabis).

  70. 77 Norman S, from Seattle
    November 2, 2009 at 22:29

    Just heard the US senator say “Americans are a patient people”….We are most certainly not. We want this war to end now. We were told it would be a quick response to 9/11. It is only creating suffering in Afghan and more hatred towards the West. We are willing to help any legitmate government deliver the quality of life services and safety all people deserve.

    Thank you.

  71. 78 Tan Boon Tee
    November 3, 2009 at 02:46

    Come to think of it, there are simply far too many meaningless if not senseless elections in most “self-styled” or “guided” democratic nations in the world, especially among the infant or newly independent ones.

    Imagine the ugly practices that involve vote-buying, faked ballots, phantom voters, character assassinations and the like, one would wonder what is the point of having any election at all? Besides, would anyone call an election of just a single candidate a democratic election?

    What about those elections when only 50% or less voters turn out to cast their ballots? Perhaps better not to have any election at all.

  72. 79 jim in canada
    November 3, 2009 at 03:49

    I live in Canada a free country? I come from N. Ireland not a free country. Karzai and company are no different than Adams and company just pupets put in place by the brits and the yanks to keep most of the people happy and in their place. Afgans are no different than Canadians ruled by the Oligarchs, Presidents and Priminsters or should I say C E O’s .

  73. November 3, 2009 at 07:08

    “Nation building” is ridiculous in Afghanistan. The West has no clear mission, no realistic objective for even being there… what do we want Afghanistan to look like when we have “won?”

  74. 81 scmehta
    November 3, 2009 at 07:15

    Abdullah Abdallah has made a wise move for the sake of his country; It’s no sacrifice, but need of the hour they made him do it. besides, his this move, voluntarily or at the behest of the UN, has helped him gain on political mileage, personal image and patriotic act. President Karzai, on his part, must act with wisdom, statesmanship and magnanimity in order to bring stability on the political front. Now that the decisions can be made and implemented legally; I think, it’ll be great if he could persuade Abdallah Abdullah to join him at the helm of the country-affairs of utmost importance, so that together, and with the help of the present/future international participation/involvement, they can extract their country out of the crises and help usher in an era of peace, progress and stability.

  75. 82 Jim Newman
    November 3, 2009 at 12:26

    Hello again
    I’m not sure whether I commented on this or not. Anyway here goes.
    It must be quite obvious now that, what is considered as western democracy, does not work in the tribal context of Afghanistan however much the western overlords insist.
    Stuffing ballot boxes and inventing voters was a desperate attempt by the Afghans to find a compromise to accomodate this new system and I’m sure that the surprise of Kazai was genuine when the western moderators complained.
    In fact the only time that Afghanistan had some semblance of national unity was under the Taliban.
    Anyway now that Kazai has won the Afghans will continue to be slaughtered and that oil will start flowing through the pipeline that started it all.
    Remember the name – easily remembered – easily zapped.
    Jim

  76. 83 Roberto
    November 3, 2009 at 13:19

    RE “” Is this the election where everyone lost? “”
    —————————————————————

    ———- Don’t know how anyone could ask such a silly question when Karzai and his cohorts remain in power to enrich their own status quo.

    Taliban would love to be in his position and are working sucessfully towards that end. Even Mr. Abdullah-Abdullah has raised his profile from the rest of the Abdullahs from his sphere.

    The losers are the western nations, the leaders of whom envisioned a button down westernized democracy where politics is neat soundbites and majority votes to enrich the sugar daddy corporations who market the myth that capitalism = democracy when clearly the Chinese have destroyed that myth.

    Say hello to the 100 yr Islamic Civil War and Reformation. Gonna have to check in 100 yrs from now when the smoke clears to see which Islamic groups control what in the middle east and if western democracy even survives.

    We know “capitalism” will survive. Greed is genetic within the species.

  77. November 4, 2009 at 02:11

    i think it is good situation for karzai to rewin because there are not politicians compared with him for the Afganistan
    the taliban is wrong group they must be eroded anyway for the people of the Afganistan and the world peace

  78. 85 Rustam
    November 4, 2009 at 10:44

    The first round of the elections did not produce a winner because no one received 50+% of the votes. According to the law, the first round votes count only to the extent to determine who the two frontrunners are to be candidates for the run off. Therefore, there is no winner in the first round, and since there was no second round so there is no one who can claim to be a winner. The Constitution and the laws of Afghanistan is silent on what happens if a candidate of the run off boycotts the elections or pulls out in protest citing electoral irregularities or fraud. The best and perhaps the only interpretation of the laws of the country was to address the complaints of that run-off candidate because there is a 50 percent chance that that person is the representative of the people if elections are held and on a point of national sovereignty where Constitutionally the will of the people determines matters of national interest, this Candidate (that now happens to be Dr. Abdullah) represents as much the will of the people that Mr. Karzai does from now on, because no elections for a run off was held to determine who from these two persons is the true representative of the majority. On a realistic note, I believe that Abdullah has won in the hearts of the people, and since the West forcefully appointed Mr. Karzai on the people in 2002, and he committed widespread fraud, and it is as apparent as the shining sun that he is a puppet, therefore I call upon the people of Afghanistan to rise up and ask for their rights and to secure their political independence and assert their national sovereignty

  79. 86 NSC London
    November 4, 2009 at 17:38

    “Allow me to add another irrefutable fact: It is the cherished will of every true Muslim to oneday live in a full Islamic state in peace with the rest of the world. Therefore, it follows that every Muslim country in the world will one day become a full fledged Islamic state. No power in the world can change this destiny.”

    This is a really interesting comment, and I agree with you based upon what I have observed. The obvious question, which is somewhat off topic, is what this means for the western countries who are subject to massive Muslim immigration and increasing pressure to admit sharia courts?


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