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KARZAI’S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL IN AFGHANISTAN—THE REAL EXTENT OF THE ELECTORAL FRAUD, ABDULLAH’S CHANCES, AND WASHINGTON’S RESPONSE

Could it be that the ECC’s very limited statistical sampling of the August 20 election results–examining only polling stations representing the most egregious cases of fraud–vastly understates the real extent of the fraud, and hence the likelihood that Karzai can actually beat Abdullah in a second round?

Isn’t it time now for an emergency reorientation of our policy towards the Karzai government, with a view toward decisive action in the coming days? During the Cuban Missile Crisis, it should be noted, President John F. Kennedy was not engaged in a wide-ranging policy review, but rather using his Executive Committee to help him decide how to deal with missile-laden Soviet ships bearing down first on Cuba, and then directly on U.S. navy warships blocking their route to Cuba.

President Obama’s policy review is valuable and should continue, but he needs to focus now on the ships bearing down on us and Afghanistan in the next few days.

The Trenchant Observer


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MORE TROOPS, OR BETTER DIPLOMACY? DIPLOMATIC AND POLITICAL FAILURES IN AFGHANISTAN

The situation in Afghanistan is desperate. As President Obama and his advisers debate how many additional troops to send to Afghanistan—at this time…the debate…does not address the diplomatic and political failures which have led to our current predicament….If their critical nature and root causes are not grasped and addressed, the dispatch of additional troops to Afghanistan will not reverse a deteriorating situation, just as the dispatch of additional troops in 2008 and earlier this year failed to halt the advances of the Taliban.

One overriding fact remains. Our diplomacy in Afghanistan has not been successful. It has failed. It has failed in a catastrophic way.

Following catastrophic diplomatic and political failures, we may need a new diplomatic team in Kabul, better decision-making structures and personnel at State, more vigorous Congressional oversight, and a whole rethink of whether the “aid and development” element of our strategy in Afghanistan, as currently implemented, makes any sense given our experience on the ground. Certainly we need to bear in mind that our counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq, to the extent it has been successful, has depended in critical part on free elections and the development of a legitimate government that could gain the support of the population. Finally, we should never lose sight of the fact that what we do about the election fraud in Afghanistan will have profound repercussions in Iran, and beyond.


No Picture

CONSORTING WITH THE DEVIL? THE DEBATE OVER THE EFFICACY OF TORTURE

April 24, 2009–The current debate over whether the use of torture by the Bush administration produced valuable information throws into sharp relief the moral depths to which the United States has sunk–from leading politicians and…