Journal: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards

Intelligence for the President--AND Everyone Else
Intelligence for the President--AND Everyone Else

A Long-Term Disaster for Obama and the US

The Delegitimization of Karzai
By PATRICK COCKBURN

The election in Afghanistan has turned into a disaster for all who promoted it. Hamid Karzai has been declared re-elected as president of the country for the next five years though his allies inside and outside Afghanistan know that he owes his success to open fraud. Instead of increasing his government’s legitimacy, the poll has further de-legitimized it.  . . . . . . .

In Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, the government was democratically elected by a huge majority in 2005. There was a savage civil war because the fifth of the population, who are Sunni Arabs, did not accept that victory of four fifths who are Shia Arabs and Kurds. The Shia did not relish US occupation, but they were prepared to cooperate with it while they took power. Only the Kurds were long term US allies.

In Iraq the state was previously strong and can be made strong again. Above all the Iraqi government had money. Its oil revenues were $62 billion last year. The Afghan government has in the past had limited authority outside the cities and it has no money apart from foreign aid hand outs.

Another important difference between the two countries is geography. Iraq is flat outside Kurdistan and the great majority live in cities and towns on the Tigris and Euphrates. It is not good terrain for guerrilla fighters in contrast to Afghanistan with its high mountains, broken hills and isolated villages.