[I work in a public affairs office, but am writing to offer my personal opinion]: Afghanistan’s fraud-tainted election handed the world an opportunity to hit the reset button and erase the biggest mistake made there. That mistake is the Afghan government.

But by all appearances, we are squandering this lucky break.

Instead of pushing the button, the U.S. and its partners are doubling down on years of blunders. Presidents and prime ministers congratulated incumbent Hamid Karzai after his challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the runoff election. Abdullah concluded — as many Afghans have — that the second round of elections would be no different from the first: riddled with fraud, handing Karzai a sure win.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., under the auspices of President Barack Obama, convinced Karzai to concede that he hadn’t won the first round after a third of the votes he received were thrown out due to massive fraud. Obama has congratulated Karzai for his “win” — a win based on those same tainted votes. Obama didn’t have to do that.

Rather than back Karzai, the U.S. and its allies could withdraw their support and call on the United Nations to install a civilian administration in Afghanistan that could run the country until Afghans are properly trained and capable of managing their own affairs.

Nobody could argue that Karzai — or anybody else in the Afghan government — has the standing or obvious desire to stomp out corruption in Afghanistan’s government, nor do they have the competence to administer it. It is likely already beyond rescue.

Corruption has chipped away the faith Afghans had in their leaders and sent them looking for help from the Taliban. We risk throwing away our credibility with the Afghans if we continue to back a crooked government they gave up on long ago.

Staff Sgt. Matthew MillhamKabul

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