Obama's Next Move in Afghanistan

The early returns from Afghanistan's presidential election had the smell of a decorous massage job

Photo-illustration by Stephen Kroninger for TIME; Obama: Mark Wilson / Getty

The early returns from Afghanistan's presidential election had the smell of a decorous massage job. With 10% of districts reporting, the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, the former Foreign Minister, were tied, with about 40% each. But few of those votes came from Karzai's Pashtun strongholds in the south, where turnout was light — owing to Taliban threats — but heavily managed. "It's not exactly one man, one vote out in the rural areas," a Western diplomat told me. "The tribal leader gathers everyone together and says, 'We're voting for Candidate X.'" In some cases, apparently, tribal...

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