An apparently objective journalist has filed a highly disturbing report about the recent election in Afghanistan. Titled How much are we expected to believe? and published in the journal Foreign Policy, it is not a long read and details the strong possibility of election fraud. You may wish to read it all; here is the gist of the report:
Consistent and credible reports from the south and the southeast have been coming in for days now: massive and blatant ballot stuffing; the removal or invalidation of votes for rival candidates; complete overhaul of ballot boxes; intimidation of witnesses and IEC staff; systematic removal of the publically displayed tally sheets. . .
While we have been busy with the number of incidents, the total turnout figure, and whether candidates and their supporters will decide to contest the outcome or not, there has been a major and systematic overhaul of the election outcome in the insecure parts of the country. If this is left unchecked the message will be unambiguous: there is no government, there is no law, and the internationals are fine with that. This means there is no real hope for improvement, which is a dangerous message to give in those areas.
Re the author: Martine van Bijlert is the co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, where this post was originally published.
In the meantime, Military.com reports 2009 Now Deadliest Year of Afghan War:
August 25, 2009
The number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year surpassed that for all of 2008 on Tuesday with the deaths of four US military personnel in a bomb blast in the country's south.
The soldiers operating under NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed by an improvised bomb, the Taliban's weapon of choice, in southern Afghanistan, the alliance force said.
The latest casualties bring to 63 the number of foreign soldiers who have died in Afghanistan this month and to 295 the death toll since January, making this the deadliest year for foreign troops since their 2001 arrival.
It's beginning to sound like Iraq-level casualty counts. We know that al Qaeda once had but now has no bases in Afghanistan. Who and what are we fighting for there?
If the answer is the same as in Viet Nam, the result is likely to be the same.
As predicted here many times, recessions/depressions/bananas end; this one may or may not have. On the other hand, wars may not end. The U. S. should emulate the fast growing countries of Brazil, India and China and get back to improving the lives of its people at home while abjuring foreign wars. At this point, the Afghan War is elective. Its winnability is increasing looking chancy while the financial and human costs look very dear.
After the markets closed last Friday, EBR posted The Case for Long Treasuries Gets Stronger Even as Leading Indicators Strengthen. From Friday's close till Tuesday's close, TLT (the proxy for the long T-bond discussed) is up 2.4% in price while the S&P 500 is up 0.1%. We shall see whether TLT, which could have been sold at the close today for over 6 month's worth of interest, has "legs"; what will destroy the long-term bull market in Treasuries, the end of which has been expected at the end of every economic cycle for years, is not prosperity. It is an expensive foreign war that the Government will then use to justify another ruinous inflation.
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