Connie Lawn: Washington Thoughts
Washington ThoughtsConnie Lawn, October 22, 2009
You could hear the arm twisting from Kabul, Afghanistan to New Zealand. Hamid Kharzi was presented with an offer he could not refuse. He suddenly saw the light, and agreed to run- off Presidential elections for November the 7th. Of course, they could be called off, if he agrees to a coalition government with his main rival.
Kharzi’s displeasure was evident in his statements and his body language. He believed he had won reelection in the original election about two months ago. But the UN Commission and others sent to monitor determined about a million of the ballots were false or irregular, and they were thrown out. With them, Kharzi’s majority disappeared.
Some heavy diplomats were sent to Kabul to convince him that new elections were needed. Senator John Kerry went with them. Messages were sent publically and privately from Washington – go along, or forget about more billions and more troops from the United States.
As soon as Kharzi and the others held their news conference, agreeing to new elections, President Obama released a glowing statement, full of praise for Hamid Kharzi’s statesmanship. But, in later statements, he also said the United States will support whomever wins. Afghanistan dominated the President’s statements, even though he was meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq at the time they were made. American troops are slowly leaving Iraq, while others are being deployed to the rugged, brutal terrain of Afghanistan. The working number is 68,000 US troops – that could swell to over 100,000 next year.
Most opinion polls now show a majority of Americans do not favor troop increases in Afghanistan. They do support the use of drones and missiles, if they can be effective against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Civilians also become victims that way, but they are already suffering terrible loses at the hands of homicide bombers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and, for that matter, in Iraq.
New elections in Afghanistan in three weeks are a grueling talk. The winter cold and snow may set in, making travel more difficult than it is already. The Taliban threatens violence. After some brave souls voted the last time, terrorists cut off their fingers! It may be nearly impossible to have “free and fair elections” in Afghanistan. But, if the attempt is not made, President Obama may not be able to justify a continued war and buildup. As it is, many people in America are comparing the situation to the quagmires in Korea and Vietnam. Many homeless and jobless Americans are asking, why can’t the billions be spent to help people here, and build up defenses at home.
There is genuine concern that Afghanistan can never “be won,” and will add another country to its record as “The Graveyard of Empires.”
Connie Lawn has a passionate love for NZ. She worked for Radio New Zealand for 20 years, and then for Radio Live for a few years. Connie has covered the White House and the world since 1968. Her other passion is skiing, and she calls herself "the skiing White House reporter." Her ski stories are on dcski.com and other outlets. Connie is also heard on thousands of radio stations, but firmly believes the internet is the future. She can be reached at email@example.com