Mahatma Ghandi, on the Dynamics of Change

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Niccolo Machiavelli, on the Trials of Change

“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to institute a new order of things.”

Pablo Picasso, on the Meaning and Purpose of Life

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”


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International Observation Mission for National Parliamentary Elections in Afghanistan


The US-based group Democracy International deployed the largest international observation mission for the September 2010 national parliamentary elections. Conditions varied dramatically across the country, though security was of paramount concern most everywhere.


Observers met in Kabul for cultural and security briefings before heading out. With domestic observers we covered the country except where tough terrain precluded easy access. In some areas voting materials were transported via donkey.


While there were few systematic voting problems per se, corruption was evident. Some voters stayed home for fear of the Taliban, who threatened to cut off ink-stained fingers (the proof of having voted). Democracy at best is still percolating in Afghanistan. I spent an eye-opening time in Urūzgōn, a remote south-Central province.


Election Day



Tea House, Tirin Kot, Urūzgōn. From my car. Photos courtesy Hassan Baroudy.



Our cooks show they voted.



My interpreter shows he’s voted.



Heading out.



Sweet guy, strong tea.

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