Speaker 2: You can’t do it with internationals.  You require too many, it is too unsafe, people won’t speak the language, but the good side of you know, again we focus on the bad on Afghanistan and I understand why, but there are some really good sides of the story of Afghanistan over the last eight years.  As someone who lived in Afghanistan during the civil war in the 90s, I can tell you it can get a lot worse and some great things have actually been done in the last couple of years in Afghanistan, two of those things which are very relevant to your question, one is media, there has been a tremendous explosion of media in Afghanistan.  You know, the problem with media in Afghanistan is not state control although they do try, but in some ways it is almost not lack of state control, but lack of standards, you know, when you have an explosion like that you have a lot of people out there not trained as journalists and so on and that can be dangerous, but it is mostly a good story.  I mean Afghans have tremendous access to radio first and foremost because almost every Afghan listens to the radio that is where they get their news and obviously you know, it is completely literacy full-proof because everybody can, you know, almost everybody can hear the radio and they are avid radio listeners.  There has been an explosion of television, there is a lot of print media particularly in some of the major cities.  There is diversity of voices and that has been actually been really important for this political process over the last couple of months.  We had the first ever presidential debate in Afghanistan, the sitting President showed up for that debate.  It was of course broadcast on radio and television and so there have been some real advances and more broadly in Afghan civil society, I think I mentioned, I don’t remember the exact number but there were something like 5000 Afghan civil society monitors who participated in the first round of elections.

You have a lot of organizations that have grown on their own that have received international funding.  And so you know, there really is some good new story in there that Afghan society and Afghans are growing in their capacity and potential to police their own government and ultimately that is the only way it is going to work.  I mean one thing that I don’t think I have emphasized enough, but if I have got soapbox preaching thing that is necessary for Afghanistan   it is that you know, we can’t do it for them, none of these things, the governance piece, the elections piece, the security piece.  I mean ultimately these things have to be led by Afghans and it is not just some touchy feely way of talking about development it is pragmatically, you can’t run somebody’s else’s country, no matter how good you are, it will never work.  And ultimately unless they try and fail and try and fail and then eventually hopefully try and succeed they are not going to be able to become the owners of their own future.  And so one of the things that concerns me about the current debate in Afghanistan and whether we add more troops and civilians and so on is that we start to lose sight of the fact that the more we put in to Afghanistan, the harder it becomes for the Afghans to be in control of their own destiny.  And it is a balancing thing, I am not saying pull out or do nothing because I do believe we need to commit more, but you need to do it with a level of awareness that makes you understand that ultimately this is the Afghans are going to have to live or die by this fight and ultimately we can’t do it for them.

Speaker 1: I just have one other question and anybody else has any other I will just take those, but from your perspective would we be better served if the second candidate replaced Karzai, are we so unhappy with Karzai that it is sort of you know, anything but Karzai scenario from our perspective or what would your view be?

Speaker 2: We are best served with a legitimate government.  I don’t believe that can’t be Karzai and it has to be Abdullah, but it certainly can’t be Karzai under the cloud of this election.  There needs to be something that is going to follow this, whether it is a runoff election that gives people greater confidence in the process or some kind of other political agreement that creates a national unity government and distributes power.  I don’t believe that the status quo if we can call it that which is that Karzai comes out of this election, you know, but say next Thursday there is a an announcement and Karzai has won 50.5% of the vote after all was said and done, let us close the books and move on for the next five years.  I don’t think the story can end there.  There needs to be something else as part of the political process whether it is an Afghan Loya Jirga or something that is going to happen that will recommit the political that leads to the legitimacy of the government.