As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Another Country Brought Low By Afghanistan

The United States has the majority of forces in Afghanistan. And any examples of civilian casualties or comically obvious election fraud reflects badly on the lead occupying nation, particularly their effort to fight a counter-insurgency campaign in service to an illegitimate government. But the NATO strike that left dozens of Afghans dead last week was called in by German forces, and because they have national elections coming up, they are being held accountable for their presence in the country. We could see Germany as the first in the coalition to crack.

The episode has been a debacle for NATO forces at a time when efforts are under way to reduce civilian casualties from airstrikes. It has also exposed rifts between allies over different approaches to fighting the war in Afghanistan, and has added to pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government ahead of elections on Sept. 27.

At a news conference on Monday, a Defense Ministry spokesman, Thomas Raabe, laid out the German case in an unusually lengthy account of the surveillance and intelligence that led a German commander on the ground to conclude that armed Taliban were near the tankers and that the fuel trucks could have been used in an attack on German or Afghan positions [...]

The episode has brought to the surface long-simmering tensions between NATO allies. The United States and Britain, for example, have griped that Germany was shirking its share of the fighting.

German leaders, for their part, believe that their efforts have been considerable in light of the widespread pacifism among Germans after World War II and the opposition of the German public to a continued military presence in Afghanistan. Germany has about 4,200 troops in the country.

If the elections end badly for the ruling coalition, Germany's going to bug out. Their rules for engagement are painfully narrow anyway. And this bombing incident just makes things more difficult. The situation in Afghanistan is becoming close to untenable.

...I don't know what a partial recount will accomplish, when credible reports show hundreds of thousands of falsified ballots. Counting them again won't do anything, and in throwing them all out you would disenfranchise the lesser numbers in places like Kandahar whose ballots are mixed in with the fraudulent ones. The election commission has tossed 153,000 ballots so far, but the end result is a fake election, based on the capriciousness of the commission. Which means someone's faction will be upset with the final result. I don't think you can run a fair election in Afghanistan at this point, which is part of the problem for a NATO coalition trying to engage in nation-building.

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