Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, October 11, 2004

Great new from Afghanistan
Written by: Beck

Saturday morning some time around 7 o'clock, I was watching the morning news on CNN. It was thoroughly dismal, and then the news of the Afghan election came up. It suddenly occurred to me that if things went especially well or especially badly during Afghanistan's (first ever) elections it could have an especially potent effect on our own election here at home.

Think about it. The war in Iraq, while a contentious issue, is a relatively static affair. You might have a rise in violence or a drop, al-Sadr may do one jackass thing or another. A few more brave American servicemen will undoubtedly die. But it's unlikely that anything could have a huge impact on American polls.

Assuming that the third presidential debate goes much like the second, it would currently seem that, keeping all other things equal, Bush will win by 2-3 percentage points.

So anyway, it occurred to me that things could potentially go very well or very badly in the Afghan elections. There didn't even need to be violence, in fact violence at the polls wouldn't really surprise anyone all that much. Allegations of widespread or systematic fraud, however...

Essentially, the election in Afghanistan is the first solid evaluation of the US's ability to effect positive regime change in an inherently hostile region of the world. If things go off without a hitch, people's hopes for the long term success of Iraq, and by implication their support of Bush's policies, will rise. The reverse, obviously holds true.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that CNN worked hard to emphasize the negatives in the Afghan election. The major opposition candidates were boycotting the election because an "indelible" ink used to mark people who'd already voted--intended to prevent double voting in a nation with virtually no reliable record keeping or identification system--could be washed off. And at long last, I come to the point:

The primary challenger to assumed winner Karzai has rescinded his call to boycott the election results. It would seem that the guy is actually genuinely concerned about doing what's in his nation's best interest.
Ethnic Tajik candidate Yunus Qanooni, considered the likely runner-up to interim President Hamid Karzai, made the announcement at his Kabul home, a day after two other candidates also peeled away from the boycott. He said he had made his decision after a meeting with U.N. representative Jean Arnault and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

I don't want to be against the election and I appreciate the good will of the people of Afghanistan," Qanooni said. "I want to prove to the people of Afghanistan that the national interest is my highest interest."
Any way, of the 15 opposition candidates who initially staged the boycott, it would seem many have now backed down, including the three biggest opposition candidates. It's looking like democracy has somehow actually miraculously taken hold in Afghanistan. Let's hope.

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John Beck

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