Jimmy Carter: 'Hamid Karzai Has Stolen the Election'

The following article I wrote originally appeared on the website of New America Media.

ATLANTA -- Former President Jimmy Carter, who has monitored elections in countries across the globe, called the elections in Afghanistan "despicable" Tuesday.

"Hamid Karzai has stolen the election," the former president told a small group of donors to his Carter Center in Atlanta. "Now the question is whether he gets away with it."

Official counts have given the Afghan president, who was installed after a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban in 2001, 54 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, alleged fraud and a recount is currently underway.

Carter said that the election reminded him of past fraudulent elections he had seen, where only 20 percent of people in a particular precinct were recorded as voting -- with 100 percent of the vote in that precinct going to a particular candidate.

"This is something which President Obama is struggling with," Carter said.

Carter's comments came as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, said the U.S. military would need to send more troops to Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

"A properly resourced counter-insurgency probably means more forces and without question, more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance," Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Obama has already sent tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

In his comments Tuesday, former President Carter strongly disagreed with the policy.

"Americans have turned against the war in Afghanistan," Carter said. "Every time we launch one of our unmanned drones from Kansas and kill 100 people, we make 100,000 new enemies."

Rather than increasing the number of troops in Aghanistan, Carter said, "I would negotiate with locals."

Speaking about the decline of violence in U.S.-occupied in Iraq, Carter argued it wasn't the surge of American troops that had caused an increase in calm, but General David Petraeus' willingness to "pay bribes and pay Iraqi soldiers."

The same strategy, he said, could also be used in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, American and other coalition troops continue to die at an escalating rate in Afghanistan. An improvised bomb attack killed two U.S. service members Monday in southern Afghanistan where U.S. and NATO troops have stepped up their operations in recent months, NATO said.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of Thursday morning at least 746 members of the U.S. military had died in the Afghan war since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

NAM editor Aaron Glantz is a Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism at the Carter Center, and author of The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans (UC Press).