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Afghanistan After Karzai

The voting for a new President in Afghanistan, and where the country stands now.

Afghan election workers carry ballot boxes and election materials on donkeys to deliver to polling stations in Dara-e-Noor district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP)

Afghan election workers carry ballot boxes and election materials on donkeys to deliver to polling stations in Dara-e-Noor district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP)

More than  seven million Afghans voted in their country’s presidential election over the weekend – a turnout rate about like ours in the United States. The wave  of  violence the Taliban had threatened didn’t materialize on a large scale.   But we won’t know for weeks – maybe months –  who will succeed Hamid Karzai after his three terms in office. Will the outcome change the course of life in Afghanistan, a country ravaged by war for so long? Will it help America wind down its presence there  — without hurting our battle against terrorism? This hour On Point: Afghanistan goes to the polls.


Matt Rosenberg, Kabul correspondent for the New York Times. (@mrosenbergNYT)

Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, specializing in defense and foreign policy issues. (@MichaelEOHanlon)

Candace Rondeaux, Research Fellow at Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security. (@CandaceRondeaux)

 Sanzar Kakar, Afghan businessman and chairman of the Afghanistan Holding Group. (@Sanzarkakar)

From The Reading List

Reuters: Rivals cry foul as first results put Abdullah ahead in Afghan vote — “Preliminary tallies from Afghanistan’s presidential election showed former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah leading in parts of Kabul on Monday, but with ballot counting likely to last weeks it was far too early to predict a winner. The two other frontrunners alleged serious fraud in the April 5 vote, which all being well will lead to Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power as incumbent Hamid Karzai prepares to step down after more than 12 years in the office.”

New York Times: War and Unrest Provide for a Scarred Campaign Trail in Afghanistan — “But beyond Kabul, in cities that have seen far less Taliban violence this election season, campaign rallies have lured tens of thousands to stadiums, contrasting sharply with the last presidential election in 2009, when smaller sites were favored because of security concerns.”

 Al Jazeera: Fears of voter fraud mount ahead of Afghanistan’s election — “Since the last election, the IEC has introduced anti-fraud measures such as barcodes and other tracking systems. And yet, for some in Afghanistan, the fact that this election is primarily an Afghan-run affair means it is already doomed. In previous elections, fraud occurred in spite of heavy international scrutiny, says Mohammad Hajidat Janan, a provincial council member in Wardak. Western interest in this election has decreased dramatically, ‘so of course I expect fraud,’ Janan says. ‘Whoever wins will owe his victory to fraud. He will not be a man representing the will of the people.’”

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  • Fiscally_Responsible

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Afghanistan to deteriorate into the condition that existed (Taliban running the country, girls no longer allowed to attend school, frequent terrorist acts against civilians, etc.) before 9/11. My guess is that it will be shorter rather than longer.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Perhaps the most prophetic statement I’ve ever heard regarding Afghanistan was spoken recently by an army sergeant who stated that when we leave (not if but when) within 6 months the country will return to the same state we found it when we arrived. It’s called the graveyard of nations for a good reason.

    • Don_B1

      With a radical Islamist group in charge of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), the desire of Pakistan to control what happens in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s ability to provide terrorist (Taliban and al Qaida) groups shelter along the common border, there is motive, means and certain future action to destroy any effective government in Afghanistan.

      Pakistan has two governments: 1) the civilian elected government and 2) the military. Both have their own sources of revenue, the military having the larger one.

      CNN’s GPS w/Fareed Zacharia on Sunday had a good discussion of the prospects here.


      It was General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who led a coup in September 1978 and ruled as president until he died in a plane crash in August 1988 that did the most to put radical Islamists in the military.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    After Karzai
    Ali Baba and his 40,000 thieves. All subsidized by you, the U.S. taxpayer. What? You thought this story had a different ending?

  • Human2013

    Why do we have to remake every country in our image? Why rush to turn Aghanistan into a tawdry quasi capitalistic democracy like the one we have in the US? Let them find their own way in the context of their history, culture and religion. Let us stop pretending that we have cracked the code to human governance — we have NOT.

  • creaker

    Afghanistan is a good example of why strategists and planners should become more acquainted with Star Trek and the Prime Directive. At least accept the notion that even with the best of intentions there’s a good chance that you’ll just go in and screw things up worse than they are now.

    • John Cedar

      Not sure why you bring Obamacare into the discussion.

      Not sure what good intentions we had when we retaliated against Afghanistan.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    After eastern Ukraine, maybe Putin wants to return and occupy the place. After all, they wrote the original occupation maps.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Civilization is not an achievement you earn or deserve. It’s a process you undergo on your own through your own efforts. And that’s why Afghanistan is doomed to fail. With or without the wonders of the American way of life.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Potential is something you DON’T have.
    Someone with the potential for being a great cellist is NOT a great cellist.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I wonder if opium will be discussed?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The US lost in Afghanistan the same way the Russians and British did. Suck it up. Be a man about it. Go home. Learn the lesson.

    America is not indispensable. It’s not exceptional. And it’s not a superpower. It’s just another nation: more resourced with an educated populace. One of many.

  • hennorama

    Does the very low number of Comments reflect the level that the US public pays attention to and/or cares about Afghanistan and its future?

    • Human2013

      Always a good indicator.

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