Two conclusions are inescapable from the fiasco of Afghanistan’s presidential elections and the McChrystal assessment: There is no electoral solution to Afghan government’s crisis of legitimacy, and there is no military solution to the challenge of the Taliban. And when observing the current Afghan conflict not from the perspective of America’s post-9/11 intervention, but from Afghanistan’s own quarter-century of warfare, a third conclusion becomes still more apparent: What we confront is not, in fact, an insurgency but rather a civil war — one whose resolution can only be found in a new decentralized Afghan politics based on the enduring, if ugly, realities of power there, and not through another decade of Western military intervention.
If there is one lesson to be drawn from the withdrawal of Hamid Karzai’s main rival from the second round of the elections — and his own subsequent appointment as president for another term — it is that the ability of outsiders to influence the existing politics of Afghanistan is now near zero, even when the object of our entreaties is a politician whose very existence has long depended entirely on Western support and funding. Like a patient rising from a hospital bed after a near-death experience only to rob his doctor blind on the way out the door, Karzai has conclusively demonstrated that his utility to Western interests — as well as to the Afghan people whom he’s grossly robbed of a chance for representative government — is over. [continued…]
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan announced plans on Thursday to relocate hundreds of foreign staff members, sending some out of the country, in the wake of a lethal attack on its workers at a guesthouse last week.
The relocation of its workers here, while temporary, is one more signal of mounting pressure on United Nations operations as security deteriorates around the region. The move comes four days after the United Nations announced that it was withdrawing its international workers from northwestern Pakistan, where insurgents are fighting Pakistani troops and have carried out a string of attacks.
In recent weeks, United Nations workers on both sides of the border have been singled out in deadly attacks, in what appears to be a deliberate campaign by insurgents to undercut international support for the embattled Afghan and Pakistani governments. [continued…]