Let me say that both Karzai (in Afghanistan) as well as Allawi (in Iraq) are sort of my heroes, and if I lived in these countries, they would almost definitely receive my vote.
Allawi, the interim prime minister of Iraq, is a British-Iraqi neurologist, a fellow scientist, so to say. Although he started as a member of the Baath party, Saddam Hussein attempted to murder him, but Allawi survived. Allawi is a tough guy, and this feature will almost undoubtedly be important for the leader of Iraq in the next couple of years.
As far as I know, Karzai is the only one among five brothers who does not know how to cook. Unlike one of his brothers who owns a restaurant here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he became a president of Afghanistan. The elections in Afghanistan during the weekend were certainly far from perfect, but we cannot afford to be perfectionists in this case. No doubt, 22 opponents of Karzai did not have enough resources and opportunities to advertise themselves throughout Afghanistan, especially because most citizens have no access to the mass media and they are mostly illiterate. Whatever, it's their problem. I think that democracy worked before the television was invented. A country benefits from the ability of its citizens to read, and it suffers if they cannot read. But it's important to note that the whole country suffers, not just the 22 opponents. Democracy should work with whatever available resources. I hope that Karzai will win, he will become a legitimate president, and the life in Afghanistan will be slowly improving.
Maybe it's true that he would be better as a showman on TV, but it seems pretty clear to me that his most obvious opponents would be a worse choice for that country as well as for the Western civilization. Although Karzai does not control much outside Kabul, he seems to be the only choice.
Iraq is in a slightly different situation. Allawi is a great, smart, and brave guy, but he is clearly unpopular in Iraq (even if he's compared to primitive bastards such as Al-Sadr Jr.). I am afraid that the reason is simply that despite Iraq's impressive history and resources, most of the current Iraqi nation is sort of f*cked up, politely speaking. Moreover they seem to be angry about the war. It's a very important general question whether it makes sense to try to export freedom and democracy into a nation that obviously does not dream about it too much. Well, I don't know, but I hope that in a couple of years, we will see that the 2003 experiment was not such a bad idea after all...