Foreign Policy (FP) today launched a AfPak Channel where they offer a preview of the Afghan election. They report that with just two weeks to go “what had been a yawn of a race is suddenly a pulse-pumping sprint for the finish, with no clear winner in sight. What rocked Karzai’s formerly sturdy campaign boat?” Instead of focusing on Hamid Karzai, we should instead pay attention to a trio of contenders – and be “prepared for the unexpected.”
Barely has the world recovered from one dubious election in a nation vital to global security than another is on the cards. But while Iran paid for its dodgy poll, Afghanistan’s tab is being picked up by the US and Britain. Afghans vote on 20th August, against a backdrop of bloodshed and worries that rigging will make a mockery of the £16m being offered by DfID for fair elections.
Obama worries that overt US support will harm opposition candidates. But US aid has arrived nonetheless, in the form of James Carville, the fiery political consultant who engineered Bill Clinton’s 1992 election win, and who is now adviser to Afghan presidential candidate (and Prospect contributor) Ashraf Ghani. Carville once described his strategy as “when your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil.” But Ghani has his own plans. “I aim to persuade more warlords to support Karzai,” he said, “it’s getting expensive for him to keep them all on board.”
This diary item appeared in the August edition of Prospect