Weeks of relentless diplomacy by Western statesmen have apparently paid off: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accepted the need for a November 7 runoff vote to resolve the disputed election. Even so, what are the chances that new polling will lead to a legitimate government in Kabul?
Slim, unless we can win over cynical Afghans: The runoff vote offers Washington and its allies a "last chance to deliver a clear and decisive commitment to the Afghan people," says Tom Goghlan in The Guardian. Even if the vote produces a legitimate government, it must be sustained with persuasive follow-up. "Otherwise, there is no point in being there."
"Our last chance to do right by Afghanistan"
Decent, if the West micro-manages the next steps: "A fair election is essential," say the editorial writers at The New York Times, but even a fair vote won’t guarantee a credible leader. Washington must develop a political strategy for the country that’s as intensely debated as our military strategy. "The lesson of the stolen election is clear: Nothing in Afghanistan can be taken for granted."
"Mr. Karzai relents"
Lousy—Karzai’s not going anywhere: "No matter who wins ... the United States is wedded to a shaky government in which corruption has become second nature," says Anne Gearan of The Associated Press. And Washington’s challenge may only grow. After all, "having pushed for a do-over, U.S. officials have even less ability to scold the winner. That winner is likely to be incumbent Karzai."
"New Afghan election may not confer legitimacy"
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