No, we can't have nice things
October 9, 2004 6:16 AM   Subscribe

The Afghans vote for Karzai.
All 15 of President Hamid Karzai's rivals said they were withdrawing from the election because systems to prevent illegal multiple voting had gone awry. The move effectively left Karzai as the only candidate in the fray.
posted by mr.marx (61 comments total)
 
AS bad as this sounds for everyone, I really think this sounds like 15 guys who, combined, didn't stand a good chance of taking 50 percent. They're just trying to preempt the dramatic win of the US puppet. (BTW - He wins this one and he's no longer the puppet, no?)
posted by jmgorman at 7:14 AM on October 9, 2004


And it sounds like everyone is still on the ballot and I doubt this kind of news travels super fast in Afghanistan.
posted by jmgorman at 7:15 AM on October 9, 2004


Maybe they hired diebold ? I mean, they don't even have electricity but with these machines it's not a problem -at all-
posted by elpapacito at 7:21 AM on October 9, 2004


This election is going to create nothing but a talking point for the Bush campaign for the next four weeks. How anyone rationally thinks a semi-secure election is going to suddenly offset the Taliban-leaning militia groups controlling parts of Afghanistan and stabilize the nation, especially since the election is just going to maintain the status quo of installed leadership, is simply amazing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:24 AM on October 9, 2004


Isn't a contested election following in America's foosteps? I understand the Zabol region has hanging chads.
I don't see what the problem is...
posted by fluffycreature at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2004


Didn't Saddam Hussein have elections where he was the only candidate?
posted by kirkaracha at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2004


Does this mean the former CIA operative and oil company executive wins?

Hooray, a victory for freedom and democracy!

What? You don't like puppets?
posted by nofundy at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2004


The Joint Election Management Body (JEMB), a group of U.N.-appointed and Afghan election officials who are conducting the poll, said it would investigate the complaints but could not justify halting the vote.

What, suddenly UN backing isn't enough? Yep, I'm sure this is no better than under the Taliban.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:24 AM on October 9, 2004


that's a pretty low bar, there, krrlson.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:35 AM on October 9, 2004


Put another way, krrrlson: Some folks are certainly a lot better off than they were under the Taliban. But calling Afghanistan a "success" based on that is a bit like having someone go into a hospital for cancer surgery, and having the surgeons arbitrarily deciding they're only going to remove half of the tumor.

Maybe that would be good enough. But probably not.
posted by lodurr at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2004


No, Shrrron makes a perfectly valid argument: If you discuss flaws in the Afghan election, you love the Taliban. Makes sense, no?
posted by mr.marx at 9:01 AM on October 9, 2004


I'm not calling it a success, I'm calling it an improvement.

No, Shrrron makes a perfectly valid argument: If you discuss flaws in the Afghan election, you love the Taliban.

Makes about as much sense as equating Karzai to Saddam Hussein and insinuating the election was fixed by those pesky Americans. There's discussing flaws and then there's attempts to blackwash this election solely because Bush will be parading it around all this week. Oh, and then there's straw men like the one I just quoted.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:29 AM on October 9, 2004


Leaders of a south-east Afghanistan tribe have told its members they must vote for Hamid Karzai in presidential polls or their houses will be burned.
The decision, which was made by 300 elders of the Terezay tribe, was broadcast by radio in Khost province.

Militants from the Taleban, who are active in the same area, have repeatedly threatened to kill people who do vote in next month's election.

A Karzai spokesman refused to condemn the announcement.
But still, it's clear the election is only a concern to MeFites because Bush can brag about it. What were you saying about straw men again, Krrlson?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2004


3.3 million Afghans have voted with their feet, the largest refugee return in history. That alone sounds like a vote in favor.
posted by kablam at 11:01 AM on October 9, 2004


That alone sounds like a vote in favor.

How does refugee returns have anything to do with the legitimacy of the election? I'm not saying that returning refugees are a bad thing, but I don't see your point, outside of trying to make a general "look how much better Afghanistan is" swipe.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2004


So, civil war now? what's going to happen? will this "president" have any power to get rid of the Taliban (regaining power all over), something we failed to do?
posted by amberglow at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2004


*slaps dust from hands*

welp. another mission accomplished!
posted by quonsar at 11:20 AM on October 9, 2004


"slightly better than under the taliban" and "slightly better tan living in a refugee camp"?

You want a shovel so you can lower that bar any further?
posted by Space Coyote at 12:12 PM on October 9, 2004


"slightly better than under the taliban" and "slightly better tan living in a refugee camp"? You want a shovel so you can lower that bar any further?

Just what standard do you propose be used here? Europe? America? Eden?


But still, it's clear the election is only a concern to MeFites because Bush can brag about it. What were you saying about straw men again, Krrlson?

Gee, I dunno, when the first thing you have to say on the issue is:

This election is going to create nothing but a talking point for the Bush campaign for the next four weeks.

it sort of makes one wonder.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2004


Krrrlson's got a good point. And in fact, it's entirely possible that the election was indeed fair, and the walkout was sore losers attempt to delegitimize the elections

What's in Afghanistan is clearly an improvement over that Taliban rule. This doesn't mean that we couldn't have something better -- perhaps likely would have something better -- if we weren't distracted by the Iraq stupidity and if wiser people than the neocons who brought us chickenhawk planning weren't busy eliminating the Geneva accords in the name of American liberty. But it is an improvement.
posted by namespan at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2004


But then why are the Taliban and other warlords retaking much of the country?
posted by amberglow at 1:56 PM on October 9, 2004


because Karzai hasn't left Kabul in months. You wouldn't either if your leaving would just about guarantee your death.
posted by jmgorman at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2004


Before having any great and lofty expectations about Afghanistan, you really have to look at it in historical perspective. With some kind of conflict there almost continually since the time of Alexander the Great, it is an easy country to partially capture, and almost an impossible one to conquer and hold.

It has many subdivisions, ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural, familial. Recently it was brutalized by the Russians, and then by the Taliban, leaving the country an utter ruin, almost unique in its level of backwardness, with anywhere from 4-8 million refugees forced out in all directions.

Just across the border in Pakistan is one of the world's largest small arms markets.

And into this hellish chaos, the US and its allies bring something. Anything will do. Anything at all. They drive out the Taliban to a great extent, but more than anything else, they give. The typical Afghan is amazed when they arrive in a town in force, armed like any other invader, but then say to the village leaders "what do you want?"

The offer them water wells, buildings, supplies, food, medicine. A treasure to people with nothing. The only thing they will take in return is information about outsiders who threaten them with violence. And then only if freely offered--which it usually is.

Now, with a President and soon a government, they will not have much more, except a conduit to the outside. A conduit to receive help and aid from the rest of the world that wants to help.

Other good news from Afghanistan:

http://tinyurl.com/6fkur

Rome was not built in a day.
posted by kablam at 3:26 PM on October 9, 2004


Other good news from Afghanistan:

Afghanistan's opium poppy crop is at a record level. Trafficking and use are rising in Iraq.

Afghanistan elections not the solution to its troubles, warns CARE International

Critical questions facing Afghanistan

The number of armed men in private militias is estimated at 60-100,000. As of 6 September, approximately 16,000 ex-combatants have been demobilised. At the same time, there are only 13,000 recruits in the Afghan National Army against a target of 70,000 by 2005. The figures are similar when it comes to the amount of trained Afghan police and border guards, who currently number only 20,000.

Warlords Loot Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage With Impunity

While warlords play an important role in the looting, they and their militias are far from the only ones involved. A foreign specialist in the field, who spoke on condition of anonymity, asserted that large numbers of Afghans in rural regions are deeply involved in illegal digging. When they are not working directly for a warlord, the specialist said, many Afghans in rural locales, eager to augment their meager earnings in agriculture, scour the local countryside on their own for artifacts that they can sell to Pakistani smugglers. An international network of antiquities smugglers extends to virtually every village in Afghanistan, the specialist claimed.

The government’s ineffectiveness in combating antiquities trafficking is in part connected with official corruption, the foreign specialist said. Some officials provide illicit excavators and smugglers with information in return for bribes. “More money is to be made in assisting the looting than in protecting the sites,” the specialist claimed...


Critical questions facing Afghanistan

... Afghanistan still is one of the worst homelands on Earth.

The beggars would make you cry. Gnarled old men hobble on makeshift crutches, youngsters who have stepped on the landmines that carpet the country and women who hide under filthy burqas, all do a grotesque dance with death, sitting, crawling or walking between lanes of hectic city traffic.

Despite the laden market stalls, there's a crippling food shortage. The UN World Food Program estimates about half the population suffers from chronic malnutrition. There is progress; UNICEF says the infant mortality rate for children under one has fallen from 165 to 115 deaths per 1000 live births. And the number of girls attending school is up from 14 to 40 per cent, but 45 per cent of all children still are not at school. Take out the money from aid donors and drug dealers - more than $US2 billion ($2.8 billion) each annually - and the economy would collapse. The writ of central government extends no further than municipal Kabul, beyond which aggressive warlords and conservative tribal elders impose their will at will.


Beaten Afghan Brides

I had an inspiration about where Osama bin Laden might be hiding. But when I visited the women's detention center in Kabul, there was no sign of him.

The entire jail is a kaleidoscope of woe. It's been two years since President Bush declared that in Afghanistan, "Today, women are free." But that's news to the inmates...

Nazilah, 17, had been married to an old man with tuberculosis who beat her - she was his second wife. She ran away and was picked up by the police. Now the authorities are figuring out whether they can return her to her husband's family without getting her killed.

Then there is Sohailla, 18, who says she was kidnapped for three days by the family of a young man who wanted to marry her (the police suspect that she went to his house voluntarily). The police subjected her to a virginity test; after she failed, she got a three-year sentence for fornication.

Inequality is so deeply embedded in this society that there are no easy solutions. In a new opinion poll in Afghanistan, 87 percent of those surveyed said women needed to ask their husbands' permission to vote. There was little difference in the answers of men and women.

The best route to change is new schools, new clinics and more economic opportunity - and those steps are just what the lack of security is blocking in much of southern Afghanistan, the most traditional part of the country. Mr. Bush urgently needs to bolster security in rural areas in the south, so reconstruction projects can go ahead there. The liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban was crucial, but only a first step.

posted by y2karl at 4:13 PM on October 9, 2004


This doesn't mean that we couldn't have something better... if we weren't distracted by the Iraq stupidity...

Speaking of which, here's a curious consideration - say the Iraq war never happened. Would the terrorists now flooding into Iraq to fight the Great Satan have been doing the same in Afganistan?
posted by Krrrlson at 4:48 PM on October 9, 2004


Are there no terrorists in Afghanistan?
posted by PrinceValium at 5:42 PM on October 9, 2004


Well, it sounds like there are considerably more in Iraq at this point.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:14 PM on October 9, 2004


Other good news from Afghanistan:

http://tinyurl.com/6fkur

Rome was not built in a day.
posted by kablam at 3:26 PM PST on October 9


...skip comment...

This doesn't mean that we couldn't have something better... if we weren't distracted by the Iraq stupidity...

Speaking of which, here's a curious consideration - say the Iraq war never happened. Would the terrorists now flooding into Iraq to fight the Great Satan have been doing the same in Afganistan?
posted by Krrrlson at 4:48 PM PST on October 9

posted by bob sarabia at 7:15 PM on October 9, 2004


This is just another case of the Bush administration setting an artificial deadline based on the timing of the US election (see also, the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq). How about waiting until we can secure the entire country, and then having elections that people can participate in without getting their houses burned if they don't vote for the US-picked and backed candidate?

say the Iraq war never happened. Would the terrorists now flooding into Iraq to fight the Great Satan have been doing the same in Afganistan?

Some would, sure, given what happened when the Soviets invaded. That was a different situation, though. In this case, the Taliban was sheltering Al Qaeda, who had attacked us. We told them to give up Al Qaeda or we'd come in. We also accepted help from allies and didn't lie to them about why we were invading. The combination of a legitimate reason for attacking plus more international involvement and endorsement might have resulted in a more stable situation.

We had reason for invading Afghanistan, but it's another example of not committing enough troop, doing a half-ass job, and setting up a puppet government and calling it a democracy.

Also, one of the justifications the US used for invading Iraq was to set up a showplace of democracy that would have been an example to the Middle East. We might have been able to do that in Afghanistan.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:19 PM on October 9, 2004


BBC: "But a sudden move to boycott the polls by all the candidates opposed to President Karzai has threatened to cast its shadow over what has clearly been a remarkable process.

It followed fairly widespread complaints of voting irregularities - specifically that the indelible ink used to mark voters' fingers and prevent them from casting their vote again could easily be washed off."
posted by Stuart_R at 7:39 PM on October 9, 2004


... it sounds like there are considerably more [terrorists] in Iraq at this point.

That's because Afghanistan is full of garden-variety gangsters. Terrorism is bad for their business. Now, kidnapping, hits, extortion, political strongarming -- those are other issues.

I'm actually not being sarcastic. I think the distinction does actually make sense. But we wouldn't be in this situation -- they wouldn't be in this situation -- if we'd committed enough resources to actually accomplish the goal of getting infrastructures working and repairing the Taliban/Mujahadeen/warlord/druglord damage.

And to multiple earlier points: Yes, where would be if terrorists weren't flooding into Iraq? We can't assume that those same terrorists would be flooding into Afghanistan -- we can safely assume that some, if not most, of them were radicalized by our invasion of Iraq. Without the Great Satan prancing about in camo to inspire them, they'd probably just be malcontented youths at home, instead of terrorists abroad.
posted by lodurr at 7:44 PM on October 9, 2004


We can't assume that those same terrorists would be flooding into Afghanistan -- we can safely assume that some, if not most, of them were radicalized by our invasion of Iraq.

I'll buy the "some" but not the "most." Keep in mind, I am referring to foreign terrorists deliberately crossing the border into Iraq. I can imagine Iraqis being radicalized by the US invasion, but I would think that most who came from abroad were already looking for a way to strike at America.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:59 PM on October 9, 2004


Judging Afghanistan by the standards of Iran, this is not very good. Iran actually has elections with different candidates, even though the ayatollahs are the HMIC; Afghanistan can't even get it together to offer a diversified electoral slate, even though the US is the HSIC.

Iran also has excellent voter turnout and participatory discussion about the merits of different candidates.

Getting rid of the Taliban was a very fine thing that the US and other countries did for the Afghani people. However, having a reasonably comprehensive plan to support the creation of a civil society instead of a conglomeration of fiefdoms ruled by vicious warlords would have been a really good next step. We killed King Stork, but haven't even delivered King Log yet.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:16 PM on October 9, 2004


Can't please all of the people all of the time.....




3.3 million Afghans have voted with their feet, the largest refugee return in history. That alone sounds like a vote in favor.


3.3 million people now think their country is less of a bad place than it used to be. Maybe some of them will have a positive impact on the country and thereby improve it even more. Possible?

Why shouldn't GW talk about it btw? He was the one that sent troops there and enabled this election, however flawed it may have been. How many people just got to vote for the first time in their lives? How many more will vote next time around?

I guess we should have expected the country to be a model of democracy and individual freedoms over night.
posted by a3matrix at 8:57 PM on October 9, 2004


No, not "overnight". However, there was no plan to win the peace, and the US made a lot of promises and gave a lot of weapons to the warlords who are keeping the country from moving toward a more authentically participatory model.

I think we could have done better. We have done better in the past--viz. Occupied Japan, which wasn't perfect by any means, but did a better job of clearing the way for citizens to create a new model of government.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:10 PM on October 9, 2004


Judging Afghanistan by the standards of Iran, this is not very good. Iran actually has elections with different candidates, even though the ayatollahs are the HMIC; Afghanistan can't even get it together to offer a diversified electoral slate, even though the US is the HSIC.

Er, on the other hand, Iran is a nation where a group of conservative fundies is free to disqualify any candidate it doesn't like. The ability to unjustly skew elections is practically built into the system there.

And yeah, of course it could've gone better. But I'm a pessimist in this regard, so any marginally good news I hear makes for a pleasant surprise. I was expecting widespread terror, people driven away from polls by fear, etc.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:02 PM on October 9, 2004


Japan already had a parliamentary tradition -- not very long, to be sure, and it had been subverted for a decade or more, but they had one. They also had a long bureaucratic tradition, and bureaucracy is absolutely critical to the prevention of chaos. Japan was no Afghanistan and never would be.

Actually, outside of the Soviet block, the place that probably took longest to come back was Britain. But that's another story...

Anyway, I don't think post-WW2 reconstruction is a good analogy. I'm not sure there is a good analogy, and I'm not actually sure it was really a winnable peace, in the way that Americans would normally think of this kind of thing. But I would prefer a little honesty about it. Yes, it will take a long time. Yes, we have not fixed everything. Yes, women are still oppressed and warlords can still effectively control how all their subjects vote. And by the way, none of these are problems we can fix with wells and pumps and roads -- the Afghanis are going to have to fix these problems for themselves, because that's how nation-building works (and therein a post-WW2 comparison is apt, because in the end it was Germans and Japanese who rebuilt their countries, albeit with our money). But we can make it a hell of a lot easier for them by helping them develop the tools (both technical and bureaucratic) to build those roads, educate children, build hospitals, train doctors, protect polling places, ....

But first, we have to be honest with America about it. Is there anyone posting here who really believes that there's been honesty so far?
posted by lodurr at 10:02 PM on October 9, 2004


Keep in mind, I am referring to foreign terrorists deliberately crossing the border into Iraq.

And so was I. You may recall that in the leadup to the invasion, there were lots and lots of people making lots and lots of noise about how they were prepared to journey to Iraq to defend it against the infidels.

The Afghanis are not Arabs, and the place was a mess anyway, so while there was a lot of posturing about jihad in response to our intervention there, it didn't seem to amount to much. (Apart from people coming in from Pakistan, that is.) But Iraq, that was a much bigger deal. Yes, I do believe that a lot of non-Iraqis got radicalized by the invasion -- mostly Sunni, though lifting Saddam's controls was indirectly responsible for the fact that we now have Shi'a problems, as well. (An irony that should remind us of Palestine in the '40s....)
posted by lodurr at 10:06 PM on October 9, 2004


Afghanistan actually does have a parliamentary tradition; the first king of Afghanistan was elected by a council (feudal council of random warlords, but that's what was going on in Poland at the time also).

In the 19th century, Afghanistan was ruled by the British, but had regular parliamentary elections. Between World Wars I and II, Afghanistan had a constitutional monarchy led by a king who modeled himself after Ataturk; after World War II, there was a parliamentary system with a prime minister and a titular monarch.

So the Afghani tradition of participatory parliamentary government was in force from the 17th century until the mid 1970s, and evolved in approximate parallel with, say, India's. Or, say, Montenegro's.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:14 PM on October 9, 2004


My point may not be obvious here, but in fact participatory government should be easier for postwar Afghanistan than it was for postwar Japan; there should be a large segment of the population that is used to voting in elections, etc.

Now, of course, as in most of the developing world, the demographics of Afghanistan are skewed more to a young population. However, anyone over the age of, say, 50 (don't know if the franchise started at 18 or 21) should have personal memories of voting, etc.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:18 PM on October 9, 2004


...participatory government should be easier for postwar Afghanistan than it was for postwar Japan; there should be a large segment of the population that is used to voting in elections, etc.

I think you're making an unwarranted leap, here. Yes, tribal government can be a basis for democracy; yes, tribal "chieftainship" is usually elective in some sense. But when votes are cast in that kind of a small scale, often (and especially in places and times where the stakes are high) you see that votes end up being controlled -- traded, coerced, tacitly or explicitly. That's actually pretty typical.

Japan, OTOH, was a constitutional monarchy from 1868, and by the 1930s, had been observing all the mechanics of parliamentary elections for a couple of generations. As far as I'm aware, the military oligarchy did not gain control through low-level coercion of voters; they did it at a higher level, which eventually led to an absense of alternatives on the ballots, but it did not lead to the absense of ballots. From what I've read and seen of that time (see especially Kurosawa's No Regrets For Our Youth), Japanese for the most part preserved the polite illusion that they lived in a democracy.

Point being, there was still parliamentary process, and a tradition of using it. It might have been robotic, but in the absense of low-level coercion, the Japanese were accustomed to the idea of voting without checking with their chieftain first -- their habits were established. I don't recall whether parliament was suspended during the war, but if it was, it wasn't for long, by comparison with Afghanistan.

My point about bureaucracy wants clarification, too. Japan was an ancient bureaucracy. No society with a large population can protect itself from chaos without a well-developed bureaucracy. For an example in practice, compare the government transition in South Africa to the transition elsewhere in Africa.

I'm not suggesting that someone needs to go in and set up a hierarchical bureaucracy in Afghanistan. But they'll need to grow some kind of "bureaucratic infrastructure", and that's going to be the hardest part of all. Something imposed from without will probably not take properly; something grown organically from the tribal institutions would probably be corrupt and in any case would take a really long time to grow. I don't think that's a controversial stance, BTW; I think it's widely accepted. I expect the people on the ground doing reconstruction liaison would agree. But I doubt that it's accepted at the highest levels of policy determination in America right now. At the "civilian Pentagon", they probably believe they should just be able to set up the mechanics of representational government and expect it to start working just like it does in Topeka. Not likely to happen.
posted by lodurr at 6:09 AM on October 10, 2004


But lodurr, the thing is that Afghanistan had a parliamentary government, complete with bureaucracy, civil servants, elections, local officials, a standing army, etc., from the time of 19th century British rule until 1978.

So it's not like the older generation should have to start from scratch.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:07 AM on October 10, 2004


The English-speaking media seems intent on portraying Afghanistan as though it had missed out on the 20th century. In fact, until the Soviet invasion, all this warlord/clan/goat polo stuff coexisted with a reasonably high-tech civil society.

One of my anthropology professors in college, Thomas Barfield, told us a wonderful story about how he began his fieldwork with Arab nomads in Afghanistan. He arrived a few weeks before the annual move from the winter to the summer pasturelands (there's actually a special word for this--"transhumance") and he was really excited the day that the leader of the group he was traveling with said they were going to be on the move the next morning.

Barfield said that he had hardly been able to sleep because he was dreaming of this wonderful colorful journey with these traditional peoples. He then invited us to imagine his reaction the next day when the group herded their flocks from the pasturelands to the local airfield, where the government had laid on cargo planes, and the herders were issued with walkie-talkies to coordinate the boarding process as they loaded their herds in to be flown up to the summer pastures in the mountains.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:17 AM on October 10, 2004


Rueters reports that the election was fair despite ink fiasco.
posted by Mick at 12:10 PM on October 10, 2004


Sidhedevil, I hate to flog this dead horse: But comparing post-Meiji Japan with 19th-20th C Afghanistan is a bit like comparing Amserdam with Sacramento.
posted by lodurr at 2:54 PM on October 10, 2004


Should be "Amsterdam".
posted by lodurr at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2004


For all the Afghan Pessemists-- FU and get over it. Of course Bush is going to use it for his PR efforts. Of course the election will not be perfect. Of course the country still has a lot of lawless or tribal areas. But the reality is that more good things are happening in that country now then have happened for a long time.

I do agree that America could and should be doing A LOT more in Afghanistan, and it's obvious that the Administration never really wanted to get anything done there other then get some Al Qaeda and ramp up for Iraq. But still, Bush using the elections there as a positive PR tool is to me less odious then Kerry acoyltes using them as a negative one... not sure why exactly, something to do with believing that the Afgans themselves are the ones who really have to make things happen, and we should be appluading anything that nudges them closer in the direction of prosperity, security, and freedom.
posted by cell divide at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2004


...and we should be appluading anything that nudges them closer in the direction of prosperity, security, and freedom.

A fraudulent election and our puppet in charge (but not really in charge at all) does what to accomplish those things?
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2004


Several of the opposition candidates have now backed off their assertions of voter fraud "after realizing the great majority of Afghans were happy about the election and that public opinion was turning against them."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:18 PM on October 10, 2004


The election was not fraudulent and the winner was elected fairly from a pool of 18 canidates.

Aberglow, your hatred of the Bush administration has poisoned your mind to the reality that not everthing in the world is shit.
posted by Mick at 5:05 PM on October 10, 2004


Bullshit, Mick. the ink was meant to be the last line of defense against fraud, in the words of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, an independent research group. That was needed because many voters had multiple registration cards. But whether because the ink was deficient or, as United Nations officials argued, incorrectly applied, many voters found they could erase it minutes after voting simply with water, and, if they had an extra card, vote again. ... Robert Kluyver, an international adviser to the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, said the problem with ink was only one of many problems that surfaced during the day, but that it was hard to gauge how significant they were. Many of the problems, he said, stemmed from inadequate training of poll workers - a situation likely to buttress the case of critics who say the election was rushed to provide a foreign policy success to the Bush administration in advance of November's elections.
... There were clearly ample numbers of underage voters who had obtained registration cards, to judge by both their faces and in some cases their confessions, although one could argue that moving from child soldiers to child voters marked some form of progress. ... Doranai, 25, the female poll supervisor, struggled to help the women while fending off accusations from observers linked to Mr. Karzai that she was guiding them to vote for one particular candidate. Barely submerged ethnic tension flickered, as the observers implied that electoral workers from the Hazara ethnic group were helping Hazara voters to choose Muhammad Mohaqeq, a powerful Hazara leader.
Ms. Nemati said she thought poll workers should not have been placed among their own ethnic group, to avoid the appearance of partiality. "They have not put people in the right place," she said. ... The problem with multiple registrations would seem to work to the benefit of all candidates. But Mr. Karzai's rivals insisted that only his supporters were engaged in multiple voting. That belief appeared to filter down to voters. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:50 PM on October 10, 2004


But comparing post-Meiji Japan with 19th-20th C Afghanistan is a bit like comparing Amsterdam with Sacramento.

I have absolutely no idea what this means.

The election was not fraudulent and the winner was elected fairly

Well! I confess I'd had my doubts, but now that Mick has spoken they are laid to rest. Thanks for clearing that up.

Sidhedevil: Great transhumance story!
posted by languagehat at 5:53 PM on October 10, 2004


amberglow: I have to agree about the poisoned mind. The democrat party is on the verge of self-destruction out of mind-destroying hate. They have gone far beyond a party of "loyal opposition" to one without a philosophy, trusting to self-delusion and viciousness, in pursuit of what? anarchy? Do they have any goals left, or have all of their dreams died? What do you call people who must dehumanize their enemy? Whose lives are dictated by an "us vs. them" dichotomy? Who have lost the ability to stand back and look at what they are doing?

It must be ulcer-making to be filled with such a passion to hurt and destroy. To tear down. To be unable to celebrate when people become free. It must be like living in northern Ireland or the Balkans where your pain is so intense you desire only to hurt others in the hope that it will make your pain go away. Catholic-Protestant-Soldier-Policeman-Mother-Child, it is all the same: they must feel your pain, your torment. You must pass along the agony that tears at you. Their peace mocks you.

Once again, I say three cheers for the Afghanis. They have suffered long enough and any improvement is cause for great celebration. To curse them or those that try to help them is a symptom of derangement, of sadism. To be unable to see their joy at the smallest satisfaction is to be truly damned. Damned within a Hell of your own making, of your own hatred.

Free your mind. Free your soul.
posted by kablam at 7:33 PM on October 10, 2004


You've described the Republican party perfectly. Not one word of that is applicable to me, or the party i vote for, or my ideals and goals and beliefs. Look in a mirror before you accuse anyone of anything.

My party isn't the one that installed a puppet in Afghanistan, made plans for an oil pipeline, and then left the Afghanis and the country unstable, and Osama free, and the Taliban regaining power, to go to Iraq--a war based on lies and greed. My party isn't the one that rushed elections there to help election chances here. My party isn't the one that smears a decorated war veteran's record. My party isn't the one running away from their achievements while in power in the white house and congress.

Oh, and don't even talk about hurt and destruction and sadism, when we're doing that daily in Iraq. Don't even dare.
posted by amberglow at 8:32 PM on October 10, 2004


But comparing post-Meiji Japan with 19th-20th C Afghanistan is a bit like comparing Amsterdam with Sacramento.
I have absolutely no idea what this means.



Well, I thought it was clear, without being unsubtle. But I'll explain.

Both Japan and the Netherlends are old nations with long histories of well-ordered civil society. There have been many, many, many generations of Dutch and Japanese people practicing and perpectuating elaborate civil culture.

Both California and Afghanistan are relatively young "nations". Both do, yes, have a tradition of civil society -- but it's imposed from without, has had many very sifnificant changes, and is not embedded into the cultural bone structure as it is in Holland and Japan.

There are other analogies to be drawn, but that's a start.
posted by lodurr at 6:08 AM on October 11, 2004


The democrat party is on the verge of self-destruction out of mind-destroying hate. They have gone far beyond a party of "loyal opposition" to one without a philosophy, trusting to self-delusion and viciousness, in pursuit of what? anarchy?

Project much?

BTW: The official name of the party is "Democratic". Thought you might want to know that...
posted by lodurr at 6:52 AM on October 11, 2004


Oh, hush. Amberglow's just practising for the possibility that he'll have to declare the upcoming US election fraudulent should the Republicans win.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:45 AM on October 11, 2004


Lodurr, I agree that Afghanistan doesn't have as long a tradition of participatory civil society as Japan does.

But it has as long a tradition of participatory civil society as, say, India and Pakistan, and they manage to have elections in India and Pakistan.

So though we shouldn't expect the first Afghan election after the Soviet takeover and the Taliban rule to be, say, as organized and participatory as an election in the US, Netherlands, Japan, Norway, etc., etc., we might be doing the Afghan people a favor by aiming for the quality of a Pakistani election, at least.

Krrlson, I think that whoever wins the next election, there will still have been votes for either side that were counted incorrectly. I would really like to see some intelligent, common sense elections reform in the US. The "Help America Vote Act" of 2002, seems, by all accounts, to have been what the Germans call a schlimmbesserung--a putative improvement that actually makes things worse.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2004


But it has as long a tradition of participatory civil society as, say, India and Pakistan, and they manage to have elections in India and Pakistan.

Yes, it's good that Pakistan has a duly elected leader.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:19 PM on October 11, 2004


I think that whoever wins the next election, there will still have been votes for either side that were counted incorrectly. I would really like to see some intelligent, common sense elections reform in the US.

Oh, most certainly. Hell, given what the engineering community had to say on the new e-voting machines, the chances for errors, tampering, and other screw-ups have risen significantly. I hesitate to advocate conceptual drastic changes in the electoral process, but even in a purely technical sense the different systems (and why isn't there a unified standard anyway?) are poorly designed and unnecessarily complex.

But should that somehow justify the fact that certain wingnuts are clearly preparing to claim the election was "stolen" if Bush wins, no matter what actually takes place or what facts are at our disposal? Certainly not.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:35 PM on October 11, 2004


But it has as long a tradition of participatory civil society as, say, India and Pakistan, and they manage to have elections in India and Pakistan.

Well, no, it doesn't: That tradition has been interrupted for a whole generation. And in any case, the traditions you refer to do not map well to the type of civil society we're trying to build there.

You really need to look at the details on this. Simple anecdotes about hauling cattle in airplanes don't establish that Afghanistan was ever a "modern" country. Change has to go deeper than that.

Now, yes, there are doubtless traditions and practices that can be leveraged to help build a civil society. But trying to find them in some vague memory of voting by men over 50 is a fool's errand.
posted by lodurr at 10:51 AM on October 12, 2004


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