The Presidential elections in occupied Afghanistan have proven themselves to be as fraudulent as could be expected from a corrupt regime with little legitimacy or authority outside the nation’s capital, propped up by a national army led by one of the worst warlords of the nation’s past. Indeed, although the United Nations praised the fact the elections were held at all, the turnout was significantly lower than during the last elections under American occupation in 2004 (1). Then, some 70% of registered voters were estimated to have shown up, a number which has now dropped to an expected 40-50%. (2)
The widespread expectations of fraud, due to the manner in which the Karzai government has delegated its authority to local warlords in exchange for favors (presumably including favorable election results), so far look to have been justified. Despite all the claims to bring modernity and freedom to Afghanistan, the restoration of women’s rights in that country has been set back time and again as patriarchal landlords and militia captains fight out their battles for territorial control while repressing what little independent activity Afghan women had been able to develop. Not just the coalition of rebels called the Taliban, but also government officials have done everything imaginable to silence any independent female voice in the country, expelling the few female members from parliament who were willing to stand up to the traditionalist restoration. As a result, the drop in turnout has been especially strong among women, whose faith in the freedom brought by imperialism must now be meagre indeed.(3)
The widespread claims of fraud, of course, will not deter the Western powers from calling this a ‘victory for democracy’ and whatnot, when those same powers rushed to judgement to condemn the result of the elections in Iran. To ask whether there will be a similar international outcry from liberals and well-wishers about the elections in Afghanistan as there was about Iran is merely rhetorical. Indeed, in all of Iran people actually were able to show up to vote, regardless of what happened during the counting, and the turnout was very high; at the same time, the provinces mostly expected to support Karzai’s opponent, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, had extremely low turnouts with many people being too afraid of violence to vote at all. (4) Moreover, many Pashtun consider the entire government to be illegitimate in the first place, being the main resisters against the foreign occupation of the country and the government it has installed.
Finally, the Afghan population overall has little reason to care: despite the claims of the imperialists, their practical freedoms have barely increased since warlords have replaced the religious fanatics once again, and living standards are significantly lower than before the war. The central government does not control most of the Afghan territory and is in danger of losing even more; if Karzai wins eventually, this will be mostly because of the support of army leader and ultra-criminal warlord Rachid Dostum.(5) The main victor will be the Taliban resistance, which will be able to point to the chaos, corruption and dependency on warlords of the government, whether Karzai or Abdullah leads it. Undoubtedly, none of this will prevent the Western powers from declaring victory in yet another foreign adventure. Such ‘victories’ do not come cheap however: this month of August has been the deadliest in Afghanistan so far for American and other forces in the country, with 45 American deaths in just this month alone.(6)
In the meantime, in South America the progressive forces are contesting American intervention there also. Following the news that the right-wing government of Álvaro Uribe in Colombia had agreed to station large numbers of American troops there, Bolivian President Evo Morales challenged that government to submit themselves to a referendum of all of South America (that is to say, UNASUR’s member states).(7) By not just denouncing the bad excuse of combating drug trafficking, which is encouraged by America’s ‘war on drugs’ in the first place, but also unmasking the immense unpopularity with South America’s own peoples of the vassalization by the US of that continent, Morales has made an excellent strategic move. There is of course not the slightest chance that Uribe c.s. will agree, but this will show their weakness in the face of the desire of the South American peoples to be rid of foreign imperialism in their area, be it British, German or American. Moreover, it must be obvious what hypocrisy this move entails in the first place: it is inconceivable that the United States would ever agree with China or Russia stationing large numbers of troops in Mexico in order to combat the widespread drug trafficking there! This should show that when it comes to foreign policy, a leopard cannot change its spots. President Obama has not deviated from the imperial manner of maintaining American power, whatever progress his election might imply domestically in the United States. On this hemisphere and that, the imperialists show their hypocrisy for all to see, and no amount of charisma the President has can veil this.
(1) “Security Council lauds holding of ‘historic’ Afghan elections”. United Nations News Centre (Aug. 21, 2009).
(2) Straziuso & Reid, “Low turnout seen in Afghan election; 26 killed”. Associated Press (Aug. 20, 2009).
(3) Toosi & Khan, “Afghan elections seen as a setback for women”. Associated Press (Aug. 24, 2009).
(4) Jeremy Page, “Afghanistan votes amid fear of Taleban attacks and alleged fraud”. The Times (Aug. 20, 2009).
(5) Daniel Luban, “Afghan elections expose US war doubts”. Asia Times (Aug. 28, 2009).
(6) Frank James, “August Deadliest Month In Afghanistan For U.S. Troops”. NPR (Aug. 28, 2009).
(7) Katharina Wecker, “Morales wants referendum on U.S.-Colombian pact”. Colombia Reports (Aug. 28, 2009). http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/5600-morales-proposes-south-american-referendum-on-us-military-pact.html.