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Legitimacy, Legitimacy, Legitimacy

Posted by on September 16th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Josh Foust explains the Afghan parliamentary elections:

Because of the systematic voter intimidation, the disenfranchisement of women, the unavailability of polling stations in the most vulnerable regions, and the re-emergence of many regional strongmen who’d laid low the past several years, there is every indication that this year’s election will be marked by even more massive fraud. This means those who lose the election can and will contest it, with the end result that this and future elections will all be tainted as being illegitimate. In other words, the massive, systematic cheating in the last two elections will discredit the very idea of democracy in Afghanistan — perhaps permanently.

And the upshot of that lack of legitimacy will be that occupying forces will still be in the lead vis-a-vis who actually decides what happens in Afghanistan for the forseeable future – protestations about Afghan sovereignty not withstanding.

Special Forces officer Col. David Maxwell:

Though FM 3-24 discusses the importance of host nation legitimacy and even our Security Forces Assistance and Irregular Warfare definitions discuss the importance of legitimacy and the “relevant population” we continue to employ US military forces as battlespace owners which drives the mindset among US military commanders that we are in charge of operations because we “own” the battlespace (despite being in a sovereign country!) De facto we make ourselves the occupying force.

when the US takes the lead and pushes the host nation to a secondary role in its own country then the US takes on the role of occupier. They are conducting “pacification operations”

But endlessly reaching for COIN-based, decades-long occupation and pacification operations as the best answer to problems is the very definition of creating an accidental Empire. It is touted as the "fix", yet it will only create more, long-term, problems. If you don't believe that, go look at the most unstable parts of the world – the ones policymakers in the US are looking at COIN to fix – and reflect that they are all at root results of the British and French colonial adventures.

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