November 2 2010
A Second Bush
Candidates on both sides in this midterm election have remained disturbingly silent about the war in Afghanistan. Domestic policy issues, such as government spending and debt, consistently high unemployment rates close to 10 percent, and healthcare are rightly in the forefront of today's midterm election. However, the war in Afghanistan which was one of the key drivers in President Obama's victory in 2008, should become part of the agenda again, once the winners settle into their chairs in House and Senate after today's race.
This heart-wrenching account by Malalai Joya, a female Afghan politician and a former elected member of the Parliament, shows why it is irresponsible to ignore the dire situation in Afghanistan:
The headline - "What happens if we leave Afghanistan" - could have, or should have, been "What happens while we are in Afghanistan", because crimes of mutilation, rape and murder against women are commonplace today. Many warlords and commanders aligned with Nato and Karzai carry out their sexist, misogynist crimes with impunity.
Time could, for example, have done a cover story condemning the law signed by Karzai in 2009 that legalised crimes against Shia women, or about the shocking levels of women committing suicide by self-immolation. [The IWF wrote on this issue, declaring the law a setback for human rights]
We had another so-called parliamentary election in September, but I chose not to run. Any hope I had for using the ballot box to achieve change in Afghanistan is gone. Like last year's presidential vote,September's election was full of the buying and selling of votes - one province, Paktika, reported a turnout of 626%. This sort of thing is the reason elections in Afghanistan long ago became a bad joke.
[Today] there is an election in the US, and it is now two years since Barack Obama was elected president. His surge of troops has brought only a surge of violence, and his expansion of the war into Pakistan has claimed many innocent lives. Obama promised "hope" and "change", but Afghans have seen only change for the worse. Here he is now seen as a "second Bush".
Once this election has taken place, Afghanistan's troubles need to rise to the surface again. The IWF has written extensively on the issues surrounding the Afghanistan war. To learn more, go to Women in Afghanistan.