More and more on Afghanistan–
I wrote below that this whole bit in Afghanistan is about to get more interesting, as well as more exciting, and not necessarily in the good way. (Interesting and exciting in the good way over here is when I get to see one of those Air Force lieutenants in PT grear.) Today I would like to offer a few points of discussion from my vantage point, treading lightly as always around terrain that is not mine.
We have here a conundrum: sorting out the clear and fair winner of an election, according to the law, is of course the proper thing to do. However, we also need to recognize the practical consequences and understand what is probably going to happen in the interim. In my view, the runoff is going to put the brakes temporarily on strategic progress. The loss of time and momentum will, we hope, be worth the tradeoff if the process and the result is seen as putting a lid on an open question. In another country, the stability of institutions would be enough to carry the people through the period of uncertainty; here, it don’t work that way. Not yet.
Also, nothing happens quickly in Afghanistan. Nor should we expect it to. Honestly, could we squat down and shit out a do-over election on any level above the local, in a matter of weeks? I don’t think so. These folks can’t either. I’ve seen one news report that hoped for a run-off “before winter sets in.” Ha! Forget it. Talk about a “winter of discontent…”
The end result is that we’ve got a problem. Our proper and correct insistence on a clear and fair process will have an unintended, perverse (hopefully short-term) effect on the stability and security of the people for whom we are seeking the clear and fair results. That calls for leadership and unwavering firmness. As for the latter, I believe that every man on the ground here is ready to keep at it. If you are too, make your voice heard. A lot is at stake.