“So, what do we do now?” This is the question newly elected senator Bill McKay, played by Robert Redford, asks his campaign manager in the last scene of the 1972 movie The Candidate. It is also the question we should be asking in Afghanistan today, now that the election– which took months of preparation, thousands of people doing everything from security to election administration to political party development, and millions of dollars in assistance–is over, and has been judged a success.
The election in Afghanistan on Thursday will be watched closely around the world. It will be a critical moment for Afghanistan’s future as well as for American efforts in that country. The election will be a test for the nascent Afghan state, the ability of American and other forces to maintain peace in the country, and for Afghan unity. It is also an election, at least at the presidential level, where the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It is almost certain that Afghan president Hamid Karzai will be reelected.