October 14, 2004


Peaceful vote diminishes Taliban: The Afghan rebels had threatened violence to disrupt Saturday's elections, but failed to deliver. (Scott Baldauf, 10/15/04, CS Monitor)

Afghanistan's first ever presidential elections were an unmitigated disaster - if you're a hard-core Taliban fighter.

Far from staying away from the polls, the Afghan voters came out in droves. Instead of being intimidated by threats of violence, villagers walked for miles to the nearest voting station to give democracy a try. Worst of all, from a terrorist's perspective, the Taliban were unable to deliver on their promise to spread election-day mayhem. In fact, it was the calmest day in recent memory.

As the top US commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, put it, the Taliban "didn't show."

"The election was a psychological defeat for the terrorists," says Zalmai Rassoul, chairman of the Afghan National Security Council and a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai. "[Osama bin Laden's deputy] Ayman al-Zawahiri said that half of Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban, but if that was true then how could we hold the election in Zabul, in Kandahar, in Helmand, in Khost, in all the regions where the Taliban are active? This was a big defeat."

It would have been helpful if the news from Afghanistan and Iraq had been reported as positively a month ago as it is now, but the successes are unmistakable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2004 8:10 PM
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