Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why does anyone ever expect a good outcome in Afghanistan?

Thirteen months after their fraud-scarred presidential elections, Afghans head to the polls Saturday to vote for a new lower house of parliament. It's a high stakes endeavor that could roil the war-ravaged nation's political scene still further - or conceivably help stabilize it.

If the voting proceeds with minimal violence and vote-rigging, it could restore some of the legitimacy that President Hamid Karzai lost in his re-election last year and bolster support for his embattled government and U.S.-led security forces.

But if the polls are marred - as many fear - by a repetition of the bloodshed and fraud of August 2009, popular anger could intensify against the corruption-tainted government and against Western-style democracy. This could boost sympathy for the Taliban-led insurgency with its goal of re-establishing Islamic rule, and complicate the Obama administration's search for a way out of the increasingly costly 9-year-old war.

Afghan history guarantees a few things - - voting will not "proceed with minimal violence and vote-rigging", and the polls will be "marred by a repetition of bloodshed and fraud".

Eventually, you reach a point at which optimism is foolishness. Our leaders are at that point.

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