Anne Appelbaum has a fine nutshell summary of why democracy promotion remains a key priority in Afghanistan, for much the same reason as in Iraq:

We are not trying to create some kind of Jeffersonian idyll in the rugged heart of Central Asia, after all, but an Afghan government that is recognized as legitimate by the majority of Afghans — a government that can therefore prevent the country from turning back into a haven for terrorist training camps. If there were someone acceptable to all factions, we might presumably consider helping the Afghans restore the monarchy. For that matter, if the Afghans were willing to accept an appointed American puppet, we might, I suspect, consider that, too, at this point. But there isn’t, and they won’t. Which means that democratic elections — which the majority of Afghans support — are the only means of establishing any Afghan government’s legitimacy. It isn’t that we are setting the bar “too high” by holding elections in Afghanistan; it’s that we don’t have anything better to offer.
And that is why the Taliban is trying to scare Afghanistan’s voters. It won’t be able to stop the elections altogether, and it won’t be able to shut down all the polling stations. But that isn’t the Taliban’s intent: Its goal is to make the elections appear illegitimate, so that doubts about the president’s right to rule will haunt the winner throughout his term of office. If it can lower the turnout dramatically in the southern part of the country; if it can intimidate women and prevent them from voting; if it can cast a shadow over the fairness of the counting; above all, if it can convince Afghans that the election was inconclusive, it will have achieved a great deal.

Read the whole thing.

6 thoughts on “Legitimacy”

  1. Only a majority of Afghans, say 51% need to recognize the government as legit? Uh uh. It has to be more that or it will never succeed. At any rate, we have been there for over 7 years. How many more years do our brilliant thinkers at the top think it will take for a ‘legitimate’ Afghan government to emerge? 7 years, 10 years, 25 years, a 100 years? As a conservative, I realize that there are some problems Big Government simply can’t fix. This is one of them.

  2. If nothing else we need to stay there and just keep whack a moleing any Taliban/Al quaeda that sticks their heads up. Seals, Green Berets, Rangers and air power is what we need not large concentrations of troops.

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  5. dch: I agree.
    Berto: At some level we have to fight al Queda and the Taliban. That will involve some money, but shouldn’t involve a massive amount of troops. It’s a low-cost approach that makes sense.

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