Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Afghanistan FUBAR

Afghanistan is beyond "disintegrating." It is "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition" -- that is the polite version of that phrase.

Here are snippets of the many Afghanistan articles I perused today in horrified grief.

From the Los Angeles Times: The August 20 nationwide election isn't convincing anyone that any kind of democracy has arrived.

Kabul, Afghanistan - In a low-slung building tucked behind concrete blast barriers on the edge of the Afghan capital, the plain brown envelopes are opened one by one, and the complaint forms inside smoothed out and scrutinized by weary-eyed workers. ...

Nearly two weeks after Afghanistan's troubled presidential election, the task of sorting out allegations of fraud and intimidation has swelled. More than 2,000 complaints have poured into the Electoral Complaints Commission, a U.N.-backed body given the responsibility of determining the validity of claims of election misconduct. ...

"Whichever one they say has won -- how can I believe it?" said Ishtiaq Mohammed, a bicycle mechanic in Kabul, the capital. "Maybe we will have to do this thing all over again. And it was so hard the first time."

Insofar as they've managed to come up with a vote count, incumbent President Karzai is running just under the 50 percent figure he'd need to a avoid a run-off vote. We can't even be sure there's no fraud in hotly contested U.S. elections. Why would anyone have thought an Afghan election could be run cleanly enough in the middle of a failed state at war to produce a legitimate winner?

But it gets worse. A deeply disgruntled, and knowledgeable, former Bush administration staffer explains in Foreign Policy just who our show election will put in office.

The real winner of Afghanistan's presidential election will not be Hamid Karzai or his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. It's a man named Mohammad Qasim Fahim. He is Afghanistan's senior-most military commander, with the lifetime rank of marshal, and was Karzai's running mate during the campaign. Whether Karzai or one of his opponents wins, Fahim will hold and exercise extraordinary influence over the country's military and security apparatus -- more so than the elected president.

This means the real loser of Afghanistan's presidential election -- besides the Afghan people -- will be the United States' long-standing ambition to train and equip enough Afghan forces to allow for an eventual withdrawal of the U.S. military. Building up the Afghan military and police is at the heart of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's latest assessment for Washington of what needs to be done in Afghanistan. But McChrystal's forces will be training Afghan soldiers and police to work for Fahim: a human-rights-abusing, drug-trafficking warlord who might also have had a role in al Qaeda's assassination of his political godfather, Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, on Sept. 9, 2001 -- an operation widely viewed in retrospect as a precursor to the terrorist attacks in the United States two days later.

The story of Fahim underscores the implausibility of U.S. President Barack Obama's plans for the "Afghanization" of the conflict -- the shifting of security responsibility to Afghans, the only exit strategy that either the Obama administration or the George W. Bush administration before it has ever put forward. ...

There's that problem again: Washington is throwing money and lives at Afghanistan without an exit strategy or goals that can be accomplished. But hey, it's got a mobster vice-president elected -- maybe.

Okay -- the problems of the election and government legitimacy ultimately are the Afghans' problems. But we aren't helping in the arenas we ought to be able to control. This is just sickening, from Mother Jones' blog.

Drunken brawls, prostitutes, hazing and humiliation, taking vodka shots out of buttcracks— no, the perpetrators of these Animal House-like antics aren't some depraved frat brothers. They are the private security contractors guarding Camp Sullivan, otherwise known as the US Embassy in Kabul.

Naturally the State Department has renewed the contract to keep these dangerous clowns. They are employed by ArmorGroup North America (a subsidiary of Wackenhut, which is in turn owned by the security behemoth G4S). Just wait til they kill some Afghans ...

Meanwhile, foreign troops fight and die and kill and try to make sense out of the war that their governments have given them responsibility for. Michael Yon is a freelance reporter and photographer who has been chronicling the war from enlisted mens' point of view. Go read and absorb his post on the election (what election?) and surviving (mostly) on the ground. Just click and go.

1 comment:

bjohanna said...

It’s beyond FUBAR. A new term needs to be created for this.

Because of my genetic inability to embed URL's, I'm quoting this from yesterday’s BBC news web site. "In an example of the extreme threats which confronted voters, an Afghan man said on Monday that Taliban militants had cut off his nose and both ears as he tried to vote.”I was on my way to a polling station when Taliban stopped me and searched me," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed in Kabul. After finding his voter registration card, the militants mutilated him and beat him unconscious with a weapon."

Now click on Janinsanfran's link to the Mother Jones blog. Click on their link to "jaw dropping photos." Don't stop there - continue on to the last paragraph and click on "you can find the rest of the photos here." Go to the last photo. (I’m assuming these guys are heterosexual.) And gays and lesbians are expelled for simply being gay or lesbian! Not that I support anyone being in the military, but if these guys can keep their jobs, then there’s job security for the rest of us.

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