A Hong Kong newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, says that in today’s world, no country’s general election gets on the United States’ nerves like Afghanistan’s. This is not only because the new U.S. administration has shifted its anti-terror focus to Afghanistan – where Obama needs a reliable, capable government to extract the U.S. from the eight year nightmare of the U.S.-Afghan war as quickly as possible – but also because Afghanistan is an experiment in American-style democracy. The Afghan presidential election was stumbling along until Abdullah announced his withdrawal, fatally weakening the attempt to install a democratic government in the country that fatally weakened the former Soviet Union.
The extract from Ta Kung Pao is as follows:
In today’s world, no country’s general election gets on the United States’ nerves like Afghanistan’s. This is not only because the new U.S. administration has shifted its anti-terror focus to Afghanistan – where Obama needs a reliable, capable government to extract the U.S. from the eight year nightmare of the US-Afghan war as quickly as possible – but also because Afghanistan is an experiment in American-style democracy. Success or failure now will decide the future and fate of American values in Afghanistan. The Afghan presidential election was stumbling along until Abdullah announced his withdrawal, halting the democratic process, causing Hamid Karzai to win the presidency by default and fatally weakening the attempt to install a democratic government in the country that fatally weakened the former Soviet Union.
According to Americans, democracy is a universal value that emphasizes fairness, justice, equality, and transparency, where voters express their will freely and elect their own administrators. But in Afghanistan, the combination of American democracy with this backward country has given birth to a deformed monster. We can easily see war, bribery, fraud and coercion, and a bit of radical Islam – everything but fairness and justice.
Afghan elections opened under extremely volatile conditions. After several years of respite, the Taliban has come back in force. Terrorist attacks have occurred continuously throughout the country, the Karzai administration’s ability to control the situation is steadily eroding and the U.S. military is bogged down in a quagmire of war, caught in a dilemma.
The election was insufficiently free and fair from the beginning. Every aspect of the campaign was in need of improvement. Karzai, having administrative resources, could not wait to announce the winner and claimed victory as soon as the polls closed. Finally, even the Americans could not overlook this mess. After a recount, it was determined that serious election fraud had occurred, so Afghanistan carried out a second round of voting. This round was resolved after two months of deadlock, and the United States saved a little face.
However, misfortunes never come in ones. In the second round of elections on November 1, Karzai’s opponent Abdullah abruptly announced his withdrawal from the election, saying that Karzai had turned down his requests, which included a recall of the Independent Electoral Commission Chairman, and other points relevant to the three key election conditions. In fact, Abdullah understood that under the existing conditions, because he had no power to challenge his rival, the fraud in the second round of voting would be as bad as in the first. His involvement would only have been an endorsement for the legitimacy of Karzai’s re-election.
In the end, the vigorous presidential election in Afghanistan turned into a one-person farce. Karzai undoubtedly achieved re-election, but the problem is the unfairness and non-representative nature of a one-candidate election. With this dramatic end to the Afghan presidential election, Karzai’s new government is bound to be weak and its authority and legitimacy will be questioned constantly. Abdullah has become a force and, although Karzai has repeatedly said he would not share power, in any actual decision-making Karzai will have to consider Abdullah as a real power. The Afghan election has also led to greater uncertainty about Barack Obama’s new anti-terror policies. Under the current conditions, it will be more difficult for Obama to persuade Congress and the American public to increase spending to support troops in a country where the legitimacy of the government is so questionable.
In the current situation, Afghanistan’s instability, economic collapse, and counter-terrorism stalemate, the United States urgently needs the so-called democratic achievement it has been flaunting for eight years and needs to demonstrate that a genuine democratic system has taken root in Afghanistan. But, in fact, the opposite has occurred. With the election over, the graft of an American-style democracy into the Afghan political system has failed.
About this publication