The Bush administration has been touting the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of the success of democratic reforms. But are these elections going to be democratic? Rahul Mahajan points out that there are some serious questions about what's going on behind the scenes in these two nations.
Mahajan points to this Editorial in yesterday's NYT which states:
Yet the six political parties that Washington has promoted all along are not making that [legitimate elections] any easier. These parties, which are rooted among the exiles who left Iraq during the Hussein era and lack broad popular support, are now discussing a plan to run as a single unified ticket rather than competing among themselves on the ballot. That could create essentially a one-party election unless Iraq's fragmented independents manage to organize themselves into an effective new political force. Otherwise, Iraq's first free election may look uncomfortably like the plebiscites choreographed to produce 98 percent majorities for Saddam Hussein.
Mahajan also notes this article in the LA Times which says
Mohammed Mohaqiq says he was getting ready to make his run for the Afghan presidency when U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad dropped by his campaign office and proposed a deal.
"He left, and then called my most loyal men, and the most educated people in my party or campaign, to the presidential palace and told them to make me — or request me — to resign the nomination. And he told my men to ask me what I need in return."
Mohaqiq, who is running in the Oct. 9 election, is one of several candidates who maintain that the U.S. ambassador and his aides are pushing behind the scenes to ensure a convincing victory by the pro-American incumbent, President Hamid Karzai. The Americans deny doing so.
"It is not only me," Mohaqiq said. "They have been doing the same thing with all candidates. That is why all people think that not only Khalilzad is like this, but the whole U.S. government is the same. They all want Karzai — and this election is just a show."
The charges were repeated by several other candidates and their senior campaign staff in interviews here. They reflected anger over what many Afghans see as foreign interference that could undermine the shaky foundations of a democracy the U.S. promised to build.
Is the U.S. bribing Afghani politicians not to run against the candidate hand-picked by the U.S. government? Is the U.S. organizing a one-party-system in Iraq so as to ensure that the government is made up only of U.S. backed candidates?
George Bush and the men and women of his administration consistently invoke freedom and democracy as goals of U.S. foreign policy. Before the press accepts these statements at face value, they may want to ask for some definitions. I'm not sure we're all talking about the same thing.