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Afghanistan's Best Bet

Can Ghani and Abdullah Save their Country?

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (L) and Abdullah Abdullah (R) during a news conference in Kabul, July 12, 2014. Mohammad Ismail / Courtesy Reuters

On Sunday, Ashraf Ghani was declared the victor in a contest to determine Afghanistan’s next president. The process has been infuriating: eight months of official campaigning, several dozen candidates winnowed down to a final pair of contenders for a June runoff, and then three more months of bickering over which camp’s electoral fraud had been more massive. But the end product of this mess was the best possible outcome: best for Afghanistan, best for the region, and best for the United States. Here’s why. 

For starters (and in Afghanistan, this is only a starting point), Ghani almost certainly won the most votes. His precise margin of victory, however, remains unclear. The initial tally of the runoff put him over a million votes ahead of his rival, Abdullah Abdullah. After a United Nations­–supervised audit of all ballots, the Afghan election commission declared Ghani victorious -- but, in

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