Speculation about deeply flawed elections emerged immediately after the polls closed in Afghanistan, but the extent of it has put the United States in a tough position, as The New York Times reported today. How should America get out of this foreign policy pickle?
- First, Get the Recount Right, says the New York Times editorial, claiming that any hope to rebuild the war-torn country would go in vain if the Afghans cannot trust their own government. "The United Nations, the United States and NATO allies must now closely monitor the recount and make sure it is rigorously clean and accurate," they write. The editorial also insists that if enough evidences of fraudulence is found in the investigation, Washington should threaten to be harsh on Karzai and seize the continuous international support. While the editorial also states the obvious that the United States would have to deal with whoever wins, they suggest that in case of Karzai's victory, "it will require particularly deft American diplomacy to persuade Mr. Abdullah and his allies to play a constructive role as the loyal opposition — and to persuade Mr. Karzai to let them."
- Either Way, Difficult Choices for America, is the verdict in The Guardian editorial. "The dilemma for Barack Obama and other western leaders is that they could soon face a choice between being complicit in a deeply flawed election or embarking on the dangerous and difficult course of forcing a second round," they write. And while the editorial claims that a second round of elections could turn out well and fraudless, if the "outside powers" provide a close monitoring of the second reound and support the investigation of the current fraud allegations, Karzai's victory would still be unavoidable, mostly because his main rival Abdullah Abdullah lacks a significant support from the Pashtun population.
- Rush to a Runoff, advises Max Boot in Commentary magazine. "I am not positive whether under Afghanistan’s law it would be possible to preempt months of recounting, but if it were possible to proceed to a runoff right away, that would clearly be in the best interests of the country," he says. But Boot, either unaware of Karzai's notoriety for corruption and weakness or hopeful of his do-gooderism, suggests that Karzai "should announce that he will refuse to assume another term based on tainted results and demand a second-round runoff with Abdullah Abdullah, while urging his followers not to commit fraud on his behalf."
- Let's Rejoice In Fraud, It Brings Hope, guffaws David Rothkopf in his Foreign Policy blog. Perhaps in an attempt to calm the blogosphere from its pessimism over the fraudulent ballots, Rothkopf claims that Karzai's actions are an example of improving democratic practices (like in Iran) and will hopefully legitimize the opposition by inspiring them to fight for free and fair governance.