Bad timing

Two and a half years after the toppling of the Taliban, Afghanistan is still racked by insecurity, warlordism, drug trafficking, and the oppression of women. Some corrective measures are not being taken; others are proceeding too slowly. They feel they cannot talk about it in public, but Afghans eager to set their country on an irreversible course to stability and democracy lament that neoconservative members of the Bush administration are insisting on the September date because they want President Bush to be able to cite a success in Afghanistan before elections.

The security needed for parliamentary elections is not in place. The danger is not only from small bands of Taliban guerrillas but also from militias loyal to regional warlords.

“We need free and fair elections in a secure environment,” a senior official of President Hamid Karzai’s government “We need to empower the Afghan people, not the warlords,” he said. “There is a real risk that elections under present conditions will merely confirm an undemocratic and unstable status quo,” the independent International Crisis Group found in a recent report. It is no less essential that assets the warlords have acquired from drug trafficking be seized. Drug convoys should be intercepted. Bush must not deny Afghans the time to do these things before parliamentary elections. — The Boston Globe