And those somebodies are powerful enough to hand Hamid Karzai a victory in Afghanistan's elections, powerful enough even to give him every vote in some ridings where he wasn't even liked. From McClatchey Newspapers:
The records bolster the case of ballot-box stuffing during the Aug. 20 election to pick a new president to lead Afghanistan, which is now struggling against an increasingly powerful Taliban insurgency.
In Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, the results from 66 polling sites have been released. In nine of them, 100 percent of the votes went to Karzai.
Also in Kandahar Province, an area that was a target of insurgent attacks to try to suppress the vote, there were six polling places that had more than 100 percent of the estimated registered voters reportedly turn out. At one location, the turn out was nearly a third higher than the number of voters registered.
"It is state organized fraud," said Karzai's main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, a former minister in Karzai's government, on Saturday.
Well that's certainly one way to avoid having to face a run-off election. The question is what exactly are we in the West going to do about it?
It strikes me that, if Karzai is powerful enough to steal an election, he's powerful enough to defend his country against the civil war that's underway today. The corollary to this is that, if Karzai is able to steal an election, what on earth are we doing propping him up against any other group? What options do we have left? The West has a wealth of experience at triggering coups but its a very spotty record when it comes to doing it successfully.
It seems that we have three options, each lousy to some degree. We can move to topple Karzai and live with the aftermath - probably a full blown civil war. We can simply ignore this fiasco, pretend it didn't happen, prop up Karzai and heap dishonour on our forces, especially those who have died for this hellhole. Or we can leave and live with the aftermath - probably a full blown civil war. I vote that we leave.