Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, October 12, 2004

All readers of Sydney's Henny Herald know that the US-led intervention in Afghanistan is a disaster.

On Saturday Henny correspondent Paul McGeough reported under the headline America sought retribution on Afghanistan soon after September 11. Today a mire of poverty, corruption and tribal hatred hangs over the country as it goes to the polls.

If you don't conclude from that artful construction that Afghanistan's troubles were caused by the US you are not one of Henny's true constituents.

McGeough will help you into the groove.
There is a wish, a hope by ordinary Afghans for a new order in their lives and their nation. But there is a growing fear that between them, the international community and local power brokers are delivering even greater power to the Afghan forces of darkness... The Taliban has lived up to its threat to disrupt the elections; its escalating attacks have made campaigning virtually impossible... Washington clearly backs the interim leader, Hamid Karzai, dubbed the "best-dressed man in the world"...
and there has been no progress according to those indicators of progress McGeough thinks worth mentioning.

You may have been impressed by the images of Afghans queuing for their first offering of democratic choice, but McGeough wasn't. Today he reminds us that while "Afghanistan's presidential election is being celebrated internationaly as a triumph for democracy, ... wary election officals in Kabul have postponed counting millions of votes pending legal advcie on complaints of electoral irregularities."

"Afghans can't count on poll success yet" shouts the headline to McGeough's piece, a conclusion that is likely to apply for years to come, like Iraqi 'insurgents attack' headlines.
There was no proper international monitoring of the poll. Bodies such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe cast a pall on the propriety of the vote by announcing that they would not make formal declarations on its fairness. However... they are informally endorsing the process".
And now we learn that Karzai's opponents are withdrawing their objections to the poll.
There has been a breakthrough agreement in Afghanistan's disputed elections, with the main rival to President Hamid Karzai saying he will accept the result, after an independent inquiry into charges of fraud.

Former cabinet member, Yunus Qanooni, is the only candidate believed to have a chance of beating President Karzai, but joined with 13 others on the weekend to denounce the election as illegitimate, and call for a new vote.

It seems to me that the defeats for Afghanistan's new democracy are moving in the right direction.

Latest defeat: "INTERIM Afghan president Hamid Karzai has won the country's first-ever presidential election with the outright majority needed to avoid a second round, according to a US exit poll."