What do a World Bank economist, a Baltimore restaurateur, and a man widely accused of war crimes have in common? They’re all running to succeed Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan. The official filing deadline for the country’s 2014 election closed yesterday, and the list of candidates showcases a strange mix of technocrats, warlords, and critics. Despite the fact that U.S. forces look more likely to leave en masse next year, so far the important election is light on platforms and policies. For the moment, the front-runner is Zalmay Rassoul, a former foreign minister, but the real winner is likely to be Karzai himself, who possesses not only the desire to be the next president’s “lifelong adviser,” but also a firm grip on Afghanistan’s electoral machinery.