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Tuesday 20 October 2009

A Fiddle Too Far

The realisation that they might be seen as propping up a corrupt Government seems to have galvanised the United Nations, and the USA in particular, over the fallout from recent elections in Afghanistan. As I posted previously, there have been calls from within the US for that country to disengage from the conflict, perhaps driven by the memory of Vietnam, where one corrupt politician followed another, as in a revolving door, while the local military proved unable or unwilling to successfully tackle an enemy a fraction of their size.

Now, the scale of vote rigging has been, more or less, acknowledged, and there is to be a second round of voting – which means that claims by incumbent President Hamid Karzai that he got more than 50% of the vote, making him the clear winner, cannot be sustained because of the number of suspect votes. The arm-twisting has been achieved by a variety of players, notably Senator John Kerry, and also Peter Galbraith (son of J K) who was sacked by Ban-Ki Moon for his whistleblowing.

Even so, the ethnic make-up of Afghanistan suggests that Karzai will poll the largest number of votes, as he’s a Pashtun, and they are the largest ethnic bloc in the country. If the vote rigging is reduced – it may be asking too much to eliminate it completely – there may be a greater legitimacy to the next Government, and this in turn could pave the way for the US to send more troops, but the questions as to what we are all doing there will not go away.

Back in the 60s, Harold Wilson kept the UK out of Vietnam: apart from the dubious nature of the adventure, we couldn’t afford it. Tony Blair had no such qualms, and now we’re seemingly in the country for a long, long time. Young Dave doesn’t have a massively different take, though the Lib Dems may be moving towards opposition.

If Nick Clegg grasps this nettle, expect the usual righteous sneering from the kind of folks who are unlikely to have to put themselves in the firing line. Just like they all sneered at Charles Kennedy over Iraq.

And who called that one correctly?

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