President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, makes a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Wednesday, May 6, 2009, after meetings with Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

What's the end game in Afghanistan, Mr. President?

A failed policy in Afghanistan could turn Obama into a one-term president


Juan Cole
August 24, 2009 4:25PM (UTC)

The Financial Times argues that the final judgment on how upright the Afghan elections were matters enormously to the Obama administration. If the U.S. public decides the election results were phonied up, it will turn, FT argues, even more against the war than it already is (51 percent oppose the Afghanistan war in the U.S.).

I don't think the U.S. public cares so much about the elections. I think support for the Afghanistan war depends on the administration effectively tying it to concerns about Americans' safety and security. And since that argument is so hard to make convincingly, I can't see how public support for the war is going to come back. With dozens of U.S. troops killed in July, moreover, people are hearing more bad news than good.

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What I think is true is that a poorly executed Afghanistan policy could turn Obama into a one-term president. It is too early to judge exactly what Obama's policy will be in Afghanistan, but it should become clear within a few months. So far, Obama has not made the case and hasn't explained what the end game is.

CNN International's Atia Abawi reports from Kabul on the election process. She says the electoral commission says it won't have preliminary results until Aug. 25. She also suggests, based on personal observation, that voter turnout was lighter than announced and that ballot-stuffing took place last Thursday.

Al-Jazeera English interviews Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah on the election process. He says he thinks the process went well despite a relatively low turnout, and says he won in areas where the votes have been counted. His rival Hamed Karzai also claims to have won.

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France24 English service on drug money corruption high in the Afghan government:


Juan Cole

Juan Cole is collegiate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He runs a news and commentary webzine on U.S. foreign policy and progressive politics, Informed Comment. His new book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires (Nation Books), has just been published.

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Afghanistan Barack Obama Taliban

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