Feature

Democracy won’t work under the gun

The week's news at a glance.

Afghanistan

Editorial
Anis

Afghanistan is still a heavily armed society, said Kabul’s Anis in an editorial. According to the U.N., the dismantling of the militias is almost over. A U.N. program has put some 48,000 former soldiers or militants into new jobs and confiscated about 9,000 heavy weapons. The U.N. met its quota, which is all well and good. And it’s been somewhat reassuring to see “television images of military units being disarmed.” But Afghans can’t shake the feeling that the program was “more cosmetic than practical.” After all, the real threat to Afghan democracy doesn’t come from tanks or missiles. It comes from rifles. Several hundred warlords and drug lords, some of them with official government positions, still command the loyalty of thousands of rifle-packing militants. We’re supposed to have parliamentary elections this fall. But we “cannot set up a healthy parliament, reflecting people’s expectations and aspirations, unless armed men are disarmed well before the vote.” If the election were held today, “those who control the guns would control the votes.”

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