Afghan Elections and Giving People Democracy

It’s something that I fervently believe, and that this report backs up, that you cannot simply give a population democracy.

You cannot send a military force into a dictatorship or other non-democratic state, neutralise its military, remove its leaders and tyrannical power base, and set-up a democracy. Not without creating huge, often insurmountable problems.

I mean, take a look at some historic dictatorships and what came after their fall: the Soviet Union will likely vote Vladimir Putin back into the top job again very soon, Italy is being run by a man in almost total control of the nations media, Iraq cannot achieve a functioning government outta of one of the most hung parliaments in legislative history and Afghanistan? Well, to put it plainly, as the above article suggest, Afghanis’s just don’t get it.

(Germany is a notable exception, but keep in mind, only half the country turned democratic after ’45 and that half still has Allied troops based there).

They don’t get democracy. They, predominantly, vote along tribal lines. When they don’t, their choice is influenced by threats, money and other non-democratic infringements. Voter fraud is rampant, and many don’t even understand what fraud is actually being committed. With no political parties to separate the candidates, what we get from elections in Afghanistan, is a parliament that simply reflects existing tribal demographics, rather than genuine democratic will.

It’s a problem with no solution. You can’t alter Afghanistan’s tribal structure anymore then you could change Ireland’s county structure or American states.

If you wanted Afghanistan to be a true democracy, then they’d have to have fought for it themselves. Look at this worlds great democracies. The U.S, Britain, France, Spain, even Ireland. We all achieved our democratic rights through forms of armed rebellion or violent resistance to the status quo. That bloodshed imbued democracy with a sense of worth. It was something we earned, through the lives of our fathers and mothers.

Afghanistan and Iraq just don’t have that. Democracy was handed to them. All of the traditional hard work was done by people from the other side of the planet.

So an Afghani villager goes into the polling place, dabs his finger in the ink and marks his choice. He’ll probably vote for his tribal leader or his tribal leaders’ preference. That is if he doesn’t vote for whoever threatened him. That is if he votes at all, perhaps choosing to heed the Taliban’s warning and stay home. And regardless, due to the way the Afghan system is et up, there is a 80% percent chance that the candidate he votes for will not be elected to office.

And of course, a far too high percentage of those elected will not see out their terms due to corruption charges, forced resignations or assassination.

You can’t give people democracy. The way things are going, once the US troop levels are reduced, this petty semblance of fair process will be washed away by either Karzai or a resurgent Taliban. The US won’t commit to Afghanistan again, not in any relevant numbers, so the experiment will be over.

If the Afghan people want it, they’ll fight to retain it. But I don’t think they will.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency (COIN), Iraq, Middle East, Politics, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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