BENCHMARK

Afghan Election a Test for Obama

Afghanistan's elections next week aren't just a test for President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. is anxiously eyeing the election, hoping that a peaceful voting process will indicate the tide is turning in the war-torn nation. Though the Taliban has threatened to disrupt voting with suicide bombs, the U.S. is launching a new military offensive to ensure civilians don't get hurt, which has been a part of the U.S.'s new strategy in Afghanistan. Obama has called next Thursday's election "the most important event all year in Afghanistan," the Associated Press reports. If the election goes off as the U.S. hopes, voter participation will be high, especially in regions that were, until recently, under Taliban control. Insurgents have threatened to attack the polls, and it remains to be seen whether Afghan civilians will accept the military's new emphasis on protecting them.