I was reading a story in the The New York Times today that got me thinking.
The piece, by the typically excellent Dexter Filkins (his book The Forever War, about life as a correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan, cannot be recommended highly enough by me), is about how during the recent Afghanistan elections, people loyal to President Hamid Karzai set up hundreds of fake polling sites that no one actually visited.
Yet, hundreds of thousands of ballots (all cast for Karzai, of course) were still recorded as if they were from real voters.
Here’s the story; I wish I could say it surprised me, but it really didn’t.
Just like in Iran a few months ago, here was a “free election” that was anything but. This idea that places like Afghanistan and Iran actually have elections similar to those of countries like the U.S., and England, and Canada is a joke. It’s as much of a joke as were the elections in Zimbabwe last year, when Robert Mugabe “won” re-election.
Look, I know the U.S. and the U.N. are trying their best. And I completely understand the need for Western leaders to try to show the rest of the world that dictatorships can be changed; that rule by the ballot box is better than rule by machete.
But I ask you: Are blatantly fraudulent elections like in Tehran and Kabul any better than totalitarian rule? I might argue that these elections are worse, because you’re giving your people the cruel illusion that which box they check actually matters.
Maybe I’ve just turned into a cynic. But I just can’t look at these situations and see progress.
Right now all I see is false hope; seven years into a war started by terrorists, my overriding feeling is false hope.
P.S. This is totally unrelated to what I was just talking about, but here’s what’s wrong with America. Shawne Merriman is an all-pro NFL player for the San Diego Chargers. He had a good college career, and has emerged as one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league. His fame has been achieved for his talent and athletic accomplishments.
Tila Tequila, far as I can tell, is famous just for being famous, and for shaking her ta-tas on television for drooling men. She’s not particularly pretty, nor interesting.
Yet, the headlines I saw Sunday and Monday on CNN.com read: “Tila Tequila’s boyfriend arrested.”
That just ain’t right. How can she be deemed more famous and headline-worthy than him? Just makes me mad.
And yes, this may be the only blog in the entire world that has mentioned Hamid Karzai and Tila Tequila in the same post.
P.P.S. The tennis this weekend was truly phenomenal; that delightful and sweet Melanie Oudin has New York eating out of the (tiny) palm of her hand. She was five points from losing Monday, yet she won.
Here’s my take on the latest Oudin comeback thriller.