Monday, November 08, 2004

Don't Rig the Iraqi Election

Marina S. Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment gets some space in an op-ed of the WaPo. It's really only worth reading if you don't yet know about why holding real elections, in general, and especially in Iraq, is so crucial for Iraq, the U.S., and the world. I just thought it was odd that one of the top five national newspapers printed a purely lefty argument - straight up - with a very simple, straightforward message/warning: don't rig the elections.

Further, this article is a plea saying to the Bush admin and naive/ignorant/Republican/dumbass Americans:

Listen, we (on the Left) know you (Bushco) have absolutely no intention of running a free, open, fair election in Iraq, so we're not even going to pretend that is on the table at this point. Instead, we're going to try to sway public opinion by letting Americans know that their government, whatever its claims of righteousness, is not always righteous - and let this point of information serve as a warning of the very real consequences for all Americans of what is likely to happen when this next Iraq 'election' rolls by. We're going to point out the hypocrisy of the Bush administration's actions, and demand that they back up their rhetoric, and that getting Iraqi elections correct is more than just not deceiving the American people again - it will have real life consequences for the world, for the citizens of Iraq, for soldiers on the ground, and for the family and friends of those soldiers who continue to donate their sons / daughters / fathers / mothers / wives / husbands / sisters / brothers to the cause of democracy in Iraq.

It's obvious that the author of this piece knows the history of U.S.-sponsored 'elections' in foreign lands. They've looked past the rhetoric to the actions - and the actions suggest a non-election.

Just the other day I dropped a quick email to Juan Cole after reading a post concerning the upcoming 'elections'. One of Iraq's political leaders had this to say after a town didn't receive enough voting ballots (sound familiar?):
We do not want to hold up the process, and we are not asserting that this matter is deliberate. But we shall wait and see what the relevant authorities, the high commission for the elections, and the United Nations, which have promised to hold free and fair elections without flaws, so that their legitimacy is unassailable.

It seemed like such a measured statement - but why would this guy say it so carefully - why not just come out and say we're getting screwed? Was he just being a good politician, or is it possible that he actually believed free and fair elections would/could ever be held ever in Iraq even as the U.S. continues to control the country? I'm really naive about this whole politics thing.

I asked this rhetorical question to Professor Cole, saying that I was having a tough time believing that any of the political leaders in Iraq could actually believe that they were going to have any semblence of a free/open/fair election. The reasons why this either couldn't happen, practically, and why the U.S. government would not ever let it happen are just too numerous to mention. Are those Iraqi political leaders just extemely gullible, or do they really have no choice but to go along with the process of deceit and continue to agitate just to make sure they get their cut of the new government? I'm not sure - it seems there evidence of both of these reasons, but who really knows?

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