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Afghans opt out of phony election

Published Aug 26, 2009 3:31 PM

The fraud-filled and inconclusive Afghan presidential election exposed the weakness of the U.S.-NATO occupation regime. President Barack Obama’s defense of the phony election and of the U.S. intervention failed to cover this up at a time when the people in the U.S. are growing increasingly unhappy with the Afghan war.

The top Pentagon brass admit to weaknesses of the occupation and the Afghan puppet regime, but do so in order to make the case for more U.S. troops. The generals are putting the administration in the position of taking responsibility for a U.S. defeat if it doesn’t send more youths to kill and die in Central Asia.

No election under foreign occupation can be considered “fair.” It is automatically a violation of that nation’s sovereignty to have foreign troops presiding over polling places. But Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential election was corrupt from every angle.

The Taliban-led resistance forces opposed participation in what they rightfully considered a foreign-imposed election. In the many areas under control of the resistance, voting was minimal. “In a broad southern region—provinces like Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul—turnout was as low as 5 percent to 10 percent, [a Western] official said, effectively disenfranchising the region viewed as the most crucial” in the latest U.S. offensive. (New York Times, Aug. 22)

In provinces where the resistance is weaker, local military figures—usually called “warlords” in the Western media—controlled the voting places. Most of these figures were lined up with incumbent President Hamid Karzai, who even pulled off a last-minute deal with Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, bringing him back from exile in Turkey in an attempt to deliver votes from the Uzbek ethnic group.

One of the more absurd aspects of the election was the alleged high participation of women voting in certain areas. It turned out that men who were “heads” of families could hold the voting cards of all the women in the household and vote for them. Sonali Kolhatkar, co-author of the book, “Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence,” said on Democracy Now! on Aug. 20 that “thousands of women have been registered to vote by their husbands or by male relatives, and voting has apparently been done in their name.”

Whether Karzai was able to win a clear victory—requiring more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round—is still in doubt. There were over 40 candidates, but only a few were really in the contest. Karzai’s main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, claims Karzai’s forces stuffed ballot boxes and stole ballots in the south. Outside election observers agree there was vote manipulation which aided Karzai. Both Abdullah, who also cooperates with the occupation forces, and Karzai claim to have won the election.

Karzai’s rivals have filed over a thousand claims of election fraud. The result is that the election, which the U.S. and NATO hoped would somehow add legitimacy to the occupation regime, has only discredited it further.

Pentagon wants more troops

An Aug. 23 New York Times article said that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are reporting gains by the resistance forces and requesting more U.S. and NATO troops. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is now supposed to be working on new requests to the administration to be filed in early September. The media are hinting that McChrystal will ask for more troops.

In addition, on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Aug. 23, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen said that “the Afghan situation is serious and it is deteriorating,” despite the recent addition of 17,000 U.S. troops.

The Pentagon is apparently about to increase pressure on the Obama administration to send more troops to Afghanistan even before any have left Iraq.

Meanwhile, unlike in Iraq, the U.S. president has taken political responsibility for the war in Afghanistan. He reiterated his campaign position before a meeting of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix on Aug. 17, calling the war in Afghanistan “fundamental to the defense of our people.” Obama added, “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.”

Allegedly, this is “a war of necessity” because al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are the main targets. In reality, both have almost disappeared from the media and from Afghanistan. The Afghans themselves, Taliban included, had nothing to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

People in the U.S., especially those who voted for Obama, are growing more and more hostile to the Afghan war. A new poll shows that a majority of the people in the United States “now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, and just a quarter say more U.S. troops should be sent to the country.” (Washington Post, Aug. 20)

According to the poll, seven out of 10 Democrats “say the war has not been worth its costs, and fewer than one in five support an increase in troop levels.” Most of those who still support the war in Afghanistan are Republicans, who are against the Obama administration on all domestic issues and oppose his presidency in general.

Republican Sen. John McCain has publicly asked for more troops, and will pressure the administration to send them should the generals request more forces, as is expected.

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