Friday, August 21, 2009

The Day After

The Election has passed and votes are being counted.

Somewhere between 40 - 50 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots and that's under threat of dismemberment (the Taliban threatened to cut fingers off) and death (the Taliban threatened to kill people) and under fire (rocket attacks, gunmen and suicide bombers).

Despite all the doom and gloom forecasts, things weren't really all that scary yesterday. The Taliban propaganda machine (the Western media) failed to scare away voters.

So now we wait while votes are counted. We should give a nod to the millions of courageous Afghans who braved death and dismemberment to exercise their right to vote.

The Afghan people are the winners, even if the election was imperfect.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Afghanistan Presidential Election Tomorrow

Tomorrow (20 August) is election day in Afghanistan and these are interesting times. In the last week we’ve have several rocket attacks and two suicide VBIEDs (vehicle borne improvised explosive devices). In both VBIED attacks the majority of the casualties were innocent Afghans, including children.

None of this was unexpected, but the suicide VBIED attack in front of ISAF (International Security and Assistance Force) Headquarters was probably preventable and the result of lax security, or non-existent security, along one road leading into the "Green Zone."

At least one news outlet talked about how the Presidential compound was “targeted” in a rocket attack early yesterday morning. Let’s set the record straight. The safest place to be during a rocket attack is to be the target. Anything within about a 2 kilometer circle is a little iffier. Getting hit by a rocket is rather like the old Monty Python joke about the chances of having a 16-ton weight hit you in the head. You can’t worry about it.

Last night passed peacefully, but we are all expecting a little more excitement today and tomorrow. Despite the threats, the UN monitors are expecting a pretty solid turnout. A good turnout would be psychological victory over the Taliban. Time will tell.

UPDATE Afternoon 19 August:
The media are really spinning this one up. Today three guys tried to rob a bank downtown. The MSNBC post online described the area as "still in ruins" from the Civil War. Clearly the writer has never been there, I drive past the area on most days and it isn't in ruins. In fact there are three hotels and several government ministries near that bank.

They then connect the Taliban claim that there are twenty guys with suicide vests in town to the three because a Taliban spokesman said five of the twenty battled police. Well, the Taliban have a habit of claiming any violence as their handiwork, even when it's just ordinary criminal activity. By doing so it makes them look like they have more "soldiers" than they really have.

So if these guys at the bank were wearing suicide vests, why didn't any of them detonate when the police stormed the building? That would have been the perfect time to cause a lot of casualties.

It's far more likely that these were just ordinary thugs trying to capitalize on the fact that most people were home today since it's Independence Day. Had they been aiming for a big bloody splash, they would have hit yesterday when there were more people around.

Important note: The Afghan police don't let these scenarios drag out for very long and they aren't squeamish about a fight. Any such attack is a suicide attack because the police aren't interested in taking prisoners.

Election Billboard
Assuring the populace that the Army and the Police will protect voters.