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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Now What in Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai's opponent Dr. Abdullah Abdullah announced early this morning that he wouldn't participate in a run off.

Afghan presidential challenger Abdullah Abdullah quit an election run-off on Sunday after accusing the government of not meeting his demand for a fair vote, leaving doubts over the legitimacy of the next government.

A weakened Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai would also be a blow for U.S. President Barack Obama as he decides whether to send up to 40,000 more U.S. troops to fight a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

So, if the president was hoping that the election would clear things up, this puts a wrench in those plans. Here's what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said afterwards.

"It is now a matter for the Afghan authorities to decide on a way ahead that brings this electoral process to a conclusion in line with the Afghan constitution," Mrs Clinton said in a statement.

"We will support the next president and the people of Afghanistan, who seek and deserve a better future."

While the administration is putting on a good face, this puts into chaos what they hoped would settle. The president had been putting off a decision on troop levels hoping that the election would settle the political situation. Instead, we are guaranteed to have an election that won't be accepted by the Afghan public.

It was always the best option to try and figure out a strategy that was exclusive of the election and made the best of their corrupt government. Instead, the president has made the troop decision that was dependent on a free and fair election. With the election in chaos, where does that leave the troop decision? That's something only the president knows.

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