I’m unsure why this had to be turned into an issue at this late stage of the game, but the White House recently announced that we will not be endorsing the long-delayed outcome of the highly controversial election in Afghanistan that returned Ashraf Ghani back to power for another term. We’re demanding a review of the results and more clarity on possible irregularities in the voting process. And all of this is being done just as we’re cruising through our “reduction in violence” window and heading for a possible exit from America’s longest war. (Free Beacon)
More than a week after Afghanistan announced the results of a hotly contested election that critics say was marred by corruption, the Trump administration is demanding a review of the outcome in comments likely to complicate the president’s efforts to foster a peace accord with the Taliban.
More than five months after Afghans voted, the country’s election commission announced that incumbent president Ashraf Ghani was narrowly reelected with a little more than 50 percent of the vote.
Rival politician Abdullah Abdullah immediately challenged the outcome, describing it as “national treason.”
Our diplomats are urging everyone to remain calm and not focus on “electoral politics” during this sensitive period. But that’s quite the demand to make after we basically endorsed (or at least gave a nod to) the possibility that the election was rigged. That just throws the legitimacy of Ghani’s government further into doubt and adds fuel that the Taliban can use to justify further violence.
More to the point, why are we risking any tenuous and likely temporary progress in the peace talks by taking such an incendiary position? I’m not saying the election wasn’t rigged, mind you. It almost certainly was. If we’ve learned anything over the past almost 20 years it’s that virtually everything in Afghanistan is marred by corruption and any allies we may have there are dubious at best. We still have soldiers in the uniforms of the people we’re supposedly allied with attacking our troops on a regular basis. And bribery and deceit are the hallmarks of their elected officials.
But my point is, why throw more fuel on the fire at this point? I think it’s become obvious by now that we’re going to be leaving, one way or the other. And there’s no way that the Taliban will honor their promises once heavily armed American troops are no longer there to enforce them. Ashraf Ghani’s presidency, along with his entire government, has a shelf life of probably six months after we pull out at the most. Then the Taliban will crush whatever humanitarian and human rights “progress” has been made there and the country will go back to the second century like it always does.
I’m aware of what everyone still says about the Pottery Barn rule when it comes to Afghanistan. We broke it. We bought it, right? But this has gone on long enough. It’s time to give it back, even if we don’t get to ask for a refund. I’m willing to bet that when the world looks back at this particular transitionary period a few decades from now, one rigged election will be the least of the worries for the people of Afghanistan.