September 08, 2009

The Worst-Case Scenario

Before the Afghan elections, every assessment you could read and every opinion you could solicit from policy-makers was the same: the worst outcome of the Afghan elections would be one that, in either the first or second round of voting, delivered the election to Hamid Karzai with a narrow margin of victory amidst wide-spread allegations of corruption and ballot box-stuffing. The overwhelming fear was of "another Iran" -- only with our fingerprints all over it.

The worst-case scenario now appears to have been realized.

Hamid Karzai has passed the crucial 50% threshold in Afghanistan's troubled presidential election with almost all the votes counted, according to new figures released today, but a partial recount has been ordered after observers found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" at a number of polling stations.

In the coming few weeks, the international community will wrestle with options for responding to this disaster for U.S. and allied efforts in Afghanistan -- not to mention the Afghans themselves. I promise my own thoughts once I get the chance to write them down in a coherent fashion.