Just visiting: Afghanistan edition


Afghanistan appears to have made great strides in its pursuit of Western democracy.

Ghani came back to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban having co-written a book called Fixing Failed States and having co-founded an institute to study them. His reputation as an academic, technocrat, and reformer is close to sterling, but his international appeal plays to a narrative Afghans are programmed to reject. In a country that has been a stepping stone for empires and a chessboard for foreign interests, politicians with external ties are to be watched closely. On the streets of Kabul, I have variously heard Ghani dismissed as “not Afghan”; “a foreigner”; and, most charitably, “an intellectual, yes, but not presidential.”

… Unlike other exiled politicians who have returned to their native lands and been greeted by welcoming crowds, Ghani wasn’t forced out of Afghanistan, so he doesn’t have the hero’s privilege of a public that either obligingly forgets the reason he left or celebrates it. Ghani’s campaign must constantly prove that his loyalties lie with Afghanistan—Afghans expect him to leave if things really heat up. Ghani represents everything Afghanistan needs, but he’s also precisely what its people can’t stomach. A vote for Ghani is a concession of pride.

… it plays to Karzai’s strengths. His Afghan-ness is harder to question, and that’s critical to an electorate whose most frequent expression of nationalism is collective resentment for other countries’ meddling. Karzai has convinced most of the Afghans I’ve talked to that he has rebuked the West when they’ve overstepped their boundaries, but Ghani has no record to prove that he has or will.


Just visiting: Afghanistan edition

  1. And what about Ghani's motion to recognize Kandahar province as a nation? Or was it Kandaharans?

  2. And what about Ghani's motion to recognize Kandahar province as a nation? Or was it Kandaharans…

    • Karzai stole the idea – hey man you snooze you lose!

  3. Great strides towards Western democracy – or is it the other way around?

  4. From last week's NY Times report on Mr. Ghani's candidacy:

    "When serving in the cabinet, he came under criticism that after 24 years living away from Afghanistan, nearly half his life, he was out of touch with the people and too abrasive in his dealings with his fellow Afghans."


    • 24 years? That's nothing.

      • Gee, CR (faux-innocent batting of eyelashes…), whatever do you mean?

    • "The only thing I missed was Band-e-Amir Park," he told his friends and fellow intellectuals.

      • That's funny – you made me stop and think a minute I like that

      • And it's Wayne's remark that even gave me a clue about what toby was on about. Well done.

  5. Ghani – Not an Afghan

  6. Surprising that his political opponents have not been calling him Half-ghani in their campaign ads.

  7. The only thing he (Ghani) missed while he was away the sun setting over the hills at Bora Bora

  8. Afghans expect him to leave if things really heat up.

    If that summary of Afghans' collective opinion is true, it is a remarkably mature democratic thinking-things-through on the part of the electorate. Why, I believe we in our own country have a prominent party leader who as much as admitted that very point himself.