Thursday, August 20, 2009

Once more: why you cannot trust the government, and especially its propaganda wings

Here's how President Obama characterized the Afghan elections today, as reported by that legend of objectivity Voice of America:

U.S. President Barack Obama says Afghanistan's elections appear to have been successful, despite attempts by the Taliban to disrupt them with violence.

Here, to help us define success as the Obama Administration apparently sees it, is

Polls in Afghanistan closed today at 5 pm local time (8:30 am EST), following a one hour extension announced by authorities hoping to get the reportedly anemic turnout to a more respectable number. It does not appear to have been very effective, however, as the turnout has been quite a bit lower than officials had hoped.

Turnout was particularly low in the Pashtun-heavy south, a sign of Taliban strength in the region but also potentially a negative sign for President Karzai’s chances of winning reelection in the first round, as he was seen to need a significant Pashtun turnout to claim such a victory without a runoff.

Reports of voter fraud have also emerged, with one Afghan reporter saying that extra voting cards were available for as little as $8 a piece. The “indelible” ink which is used to prevent multiple votes is also easily washed off, according to reports.

The long-expected violence happened as well, with President Karzai reporting 73 attacks on polling places. Other reports have voters being hanged by Taliban and roadblocks keeping them from reaching the polls. Taliban also managed to shoot down a Chinook transport helicopter belonging to British forces in Helmand. The exact toll of the violence was difficult to ascertain, however, due to the government’s harsh election-day censorship efforts, but conservative estimates put the dead at 26.

The actual results of the votes are likely not going to be available for some time, given the remote locations of some of the polling stations. The US conceded that the vote did not go according to plans, but insisted it would not alter its policy of escalation.

In other words, President Obama defines success in Afghanistan as low voter turn-out, rampant vote fraud, dozens of violent attacks, a NATO helicopter shot down, more than two dozen Afghans killed trying to vote, and a US friendly government that imposed election-day censorship.

Kind of makes you wonder what failure would look like, doesn't it?

Maybe these two headlines from Iraq, where we have already declared victory, will help:

Thursday: 40 Iraqis Killed, 223 Wounded
Wednesday: 1 US Soldier, 107 Iraqis Killed; 1,223 Iraqis Wounded

By the way,, the most reliable aggregator and original source for war coverage across the planet, is conducting its quarterly fund drive.

Even in a recession it is worth considering.

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