A Murderous Election

Saturday’s Afghan elections are still in the news, although not on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The Times headlines “complaints of fraud and irregularities,” the Post highlights the killings of three Afghan election workers and the Journal zeros in on low voter turnout. Despite the problems and continued violence (at least twenty-one Afghans have died in related attacks), however, the Journal reports that Afghan and U.S. officials “hailed the vote as a triumph.” And blogger Joshua Foust says “it could have been a lot worse,” and speculates that one reason for the relatively few violent attacks might be that the insurgents are working with some candidates or even “fielding their own,” and thus, “there is no reason to engage in violence if your own people are running.”

In a related story, today’s Times and Sunday’s Post also report that five U.S. soldiers have been accused of murdering three Afghan civilians, charges which “echo several high-profile criminal episodes” in Iraq. Max Boot calls the alleged atrocity horrifying, but “mild by comparison with countless other war crimes” (committed by Americans in Vietnam, the French in Algeria and the Russians in Afghanistan). But Boot also claims there has been a “big problem in the 5th Stryker Brigade,” (the unit in which the accused soldiers serve) one that he says he observed in a visit last year.