The White House has ended weeks of hesitation over how to respond to the Afghan election by accepting President Karzai as the winner despite evidence that up to 20 per cent of ballots cast may have been fraudulent.
Abandoning its previous policy of not prejudging investigations of vote rigging, the Obama Administration has conceded that Mr Karzai will be President for another five years on the basis that even if he were forced into a second round of voting he would almost certainly win it.
The decision will increase pressure on President Obama to justify further US troop deployments to Afghanistan to prop up a regime now regarded as systemically corrupt.
The acceptance was conveyed by Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, in a meeting with her Afghan counterpart hours before Mr Obama received a formal request from General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, for up to 40,000 more troops.Mrs Clinton told Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the Afghan Foreign Minister, that she and her Nato colleagues — including David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary — had reached a consensus that Mr Karzai would remain President even if investigations now under way cut his share of the first-round vote to below 50 per cent. The meeting took place last Friday but details emerged yesterday.
Now I understand why the administration did not issue a stronger denunciation of Iranian election fraud, and why President Obama continues to support Zelayas in Honduras.
Somebody in the White House has apparently read and digested Jeanne Kirkpatrick's famous 1979 essay Dictators and Double Standards, which became the basis for American foreign policy during the Reagan years.
You have to love the assertions of the Obama administration:
1) NATO and the US arbitrate the legitimacy of Afghan presidential election, based on the fact that a run-off would be inconvenient and the incumbent would probably win anyway.
2) Democracy only matters where we have intervened when the process returns exactly the result we wanted in the first place.
3) The laws of Afghanistan as expressed in the current constitution are of no matter and need not be obeyed or recognized by the international community, because--after all--we are only pretending Afghanistan is a real country, anyway.