Opinion » Columnists

Bush-style chaos in Afghanistan

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Iraq in flames and Afghanistan in chaos

This time it is not scores of people holding pieces of paper up to the light to determine whether a vote has been cast, while scores more people complained that they had been denied the right to vote in the Sunshine State of Florida. This time it is all 15 opposition candidates declaring their dissatisfaction at the way the election took place in Afghanistan, a country which Bush attacked after September 11th.

Afghanistan under the Taleban was never a bastion of freedom and civil rights, since the USA created the Mujaheddin to destabilise and overthrow the democratic and socially progressive government of Dr. Najibullah. In fact, had this socialist government been allowed to run its course, Afghanistan today would be decades ahead of where it is. Thank Washington for that and nobody else.

Having decided that the Taleban regime had to go, Washington and its NATO allies have had three long years to bring Afghanistan under control. The elections went ahead without many incidents because the Taleban still at large decided it was better to let events go ahead. Everything was set for a happy outcome as the population chose the new President from among the 16 candidates.

What ensued this weekend was utter chaos. Someone had decided that the best system to use was indelible ink placed on the thumbs of those who voted, which would have been a valid solution had the ink been indelible. It was not, and therefore there was nothing to prevent a voter washing off the ink and showing up a second time.

Upon discovering this, 15 of the 16 candidates decided to boycott the election, interim President Hamid Karzai being the only one to vote. Now the election process has been interrupted while an investigation is carried out, which seems to placate some presidential candidates.

If the count goes ahead after the investigation, which seems likely, the result will be known in around two weeks. It is expected that Hamid Karzai will be the outright winner in the first round but this is not the point.

How can the authorities in Afghanistan spend two hundred million dollars on an election process which is based around dabbing indelible ink on someone's thumb and then not providing the polling stations with the right sort of ink?

The answer is simple: because Afghanistan is in chaos, just like Iraq, where two massive bombings in two days underline the growing instability, confirmed today by Donald Rumsfeld who told US troops that the violence is going to get worse, not better.

Rumsfeld in this way makes a clear admission that Washington's policy in Iraq is a failure and makes a clear admission that Washington does not have the capacity to control the situation: in short, Washington is losing the war in Iraq slowly but surely, day after day, while in Afghanistan, it is also far from won.

Afghanistan is in chaos. Iraq is in chaos. The legacy of Bush.

Time for regime change.

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