Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has offered her two cents on the $165 million-dollar-a-day question that is the war in Afghanistan.
Her medium? Facebook.
“Now is not the time for cold feet, second thoughts, or indecision – it is the time to act as commander-in-chief and approve the troops so clearly needed in Afghanistan,” she wrote in a three-paragraph note. A little thumbs-up icon underneath declares that, as of this writing, “9,809 people like this.”
If the medium is the message, the post seems to actually dignify the three-ring spectacle that has burst forth since Afghans cast their votes nearly two months ago: fraudsters in Kabul, a hush-up at the United Nations, and leaks and backbiting between America’s military and civilian leadership with more than a dash of good ol’ Washington partisanship.
Political circuses surrounding wars are not new – protesters against the Vietnam War tried to levitate the Pentagon, after all. However, the past few weeks have vaulted a once-forgotten war into a ripping yarn fit for the Globe Theater. Or at least a Facebook thread that, as of now, weaves together 1,488 comments.
Could the sudden saturation of political tussling over Afghanistan be read as a sign that the war is reaching an apogee – that the debate is actually over the terms of an eventual coalition exit? Or, as T.E. Lawrence would say, “the peace.”
As Feisal tells T.E. Lawrence in one of the final scenes of “Lawrence of Arabia”: “Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men – courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men – mistrust and caution. It must be so.”
Mistrust and caution appear to mark many of the key relationships among the deciders of Afghanistan’s future.
President Obama Tuesday tried to tamp down reports of a rift between himself and his commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal. Participants in a White House meeting involving congressional leaders told The New York Times that Obama said of McChrystal, “I’m the one who hired him. I put him there to give me a frank assessment.”
The upper ranks of the United Nations mission to Afghanistan have been rocked by a dispute between the head of the mission, Kai Eide, and his deputy, Peter Galbraith. Writing in the Washington Post, Mr. Galbraith gave his version of why he was fired last month, charging that Mr. Eide tried to suppress evidence the UN had of election fraud.
“My staff collected evidence on hundreds of cases of fraud around the country and, more important, gathered information on turnout in key southern provinces where few voters showed up but large numbers of votes were being reported. Eide ordered us not to share this data with anyone, including the Electoral Complaints Commission, a UN-backed Afghan institution legally mandated to investigate fraud.”
Galbraith goes on to say that as many as 30 percent of President Hamid Karzai’s votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates.
The Electoral Complaints Commission has its own brewing credibility problem that threatens to further undermine the legitimacy of the next government in the eyes of Afghans and the world. As the Monitor reported here, under pressure from the Karzai-appointed Independent Election Commission, the ECC agreed to scale back original calls for an auditing of suspicious results that came in from 10 percent of polling stations. Now, the ECC will only sample a fraction of those.
On Monday, the ECC published its recount rules, and Reuters, looking at how the sampling would be applied, says: “The arithmetic appears to favor Karzai. [C]andidates would have ballots nullified in proportion to the total number of ballots they have in boxes considered suspicious, regardless of which candidate perpetrated the fraud.”