Early signs are hopeful. The results are going to be spun but its going to be interesting to see how the anti-war crowd spins a 72 % voter turn-out under threats of horrific violence into a dismal failure for democracy when the United States could not muster that kind of participation if we made election day a national holiday.
The election won’t solve all of Iraq’s problems but it was a first not only for Iraq but for the Arab world. The Bush administration, though they should have done scheduled elections long ago, deserves credit. The brave Iraqi voter, deserves even more.
The initial reaction of the Arab press.
In the wake of a successful Iraqi vote, Liberal senators scurry to distance themselves from Ted Kennedy’s overt defeatism ( the GOP should thank old Ted for reminding the public that as badly as the Bush administration screwed up the occupation of Iraq, the Democratic wing of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party stands ever ready to screw things up even worse).
Juan Cole looks for the cloud in the silver lining. Al Jazaeerah describes a purported 50 % turn-out in Saddam Hussein’s Sunni heartland as ” Confusion “.
It’s another dark day for the wingnuts who now dominate Kevin’s comments board, though not as bad as last November.
January 30th, 2005 at 4:53 pm
“The official, Adel al-Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission, offered no overall figures of the actual number of Iraqis who have voted to back up the claim.”
In other news, US forces killed at least 307 Vietcong today in bombing raids along the Cambodian border.
January 30th, 2005 at 5:06 pm
We shall see.
January 31st, 2005 at 2:00 am
30 JAN 05
View of Elections from the MSM.
I watched and read today the perceptions around the world unfold during this historic day which included:
BBC World Service
As usual C-SPAN distinguishes itself in thoughtful discourse that included commentary from Iraqi nationals, Christopher Hitchens, and callers from Iraq.
After watching two hours of C-SPAN coverage, which included valid criticisms of the US Media, I felt renewed optimism in the future of the world vis-à-vis the Middle East and renewed cynicism toward the media.
Once again, though, I was shocked to view Peter Jenning’s ending commentary to include the word “bleak” with respect to the outcome of events today in Iraq. Of course, Peter chose to cover a small and non-representative minority of the minority Sunni/Baathist region.
ABC as well as the majority of the MSM has once again proven its irrelevance and its inability to be a trusted source of interpretation of world events.
The only “bleak” aspect of this historic day is the leftist media’s inability to accurately report the news. This is especially troubling considering many of the Middle East challenges stem from Fascism.
Thank God for C-SPAN and the Internet.
January 31st, 2005 at 3:37 am
Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
Peter Jennings is one of those anchors who mistakes his own very liberal political convictions as:
a)conventional, mainstream, opinion
b) a sign of high intelligence
This self-referential blindness is what led Jennings to describe the results of the 1994 elections as ” a tantrum by the voters” and to confidently predict a Sandinista victory in Nicaragua’s first free elections in 1990.
A textbook example of the dangers of believing one’s own propaganda too readily.
January 31st, 2005 at 2:03 pm
Sorry mate, but you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself. The turnout figures ARE in fact dodgey. Your snarkiness on al-Jazeerah is misplaced.
Now, the real figures are probably close to Zogby’s agg. predicted sixty odd percent, which is damned good overall, but the elections are not the end game. They open a door. An opportunity. A real damned good one, but I have watched the Bush morons piss away so many good opportunities with idiotic play to the morons at home posturing that my confidence is highly bounded.
Regardless, it’s a good play for an opening to a more legit (in most Iraqi eyes, ex Sunni) government, that might, just might get on its feet. I wouldn’t call that a win for “democracy” quite as yet, but it is a potential win.
January 31st, 2005 at 2:05 pm
By the way, this comment is stupid:
This is especially troubling considering many of the Middle East challenges stem from Fascism.The Middle East’s challenges do not stem from fascism. I have no fucking clue where that came from, but fascism is not a MENA problem.
January 31st, 2005 at 3:53 pm
Not sure who/where the fascism comment was from/by.
Fascism did influence the early Baath thinkers – it would be unusual if it had not since Mussolini had his admirers here in the States to say nothing of Latin America, Eastern Europe, China ( Chinag went through a ” fascist” phase after he broke with the CCP and kicked out Borodin and the Comintern)and Japan. It seemed a dynamic political response to depression and imperialism for the ” have-not” societies. The Baath of course, was influence by other things as well and evolved under local conditions of the ME.
I agree with you that this democratic moment could very easily be thrown away, like so many others, by the Bush administration. I hope they do not. My snarkiness toward Cole and al Jazeerah was simply that slanting coverage toward the unhappy minority – the Sunnis – who were going to be unhappy if the election was anything other than a disaster, misses the point of the election. Certainly from a demographic standpoint.
It also shows the the insurgency is *not* the real face of Iraq. Iraqis may want us out but they do not want the insurgents in our place, except for the radical Sunnis.
January 31st, 2005 at 3:54 pm
Ok, I reread Bob’s comment. I was lost there for a sec.
January 31st, 2005 at 5:46 pm
On Fascism: well I don’t really see fascism as a relevant benchmark, even given Baath background. Historical interest, but not really relevant now.
Re the moment, here Cole et al have a point, the Sunni have the power to play the spoilers and blow the game. They are in fact important because they have enough demographic weight to blow up a stable Iraq. I wouldn’t say that’s slanting per se (although Cole was clearly stepping back from optimism a big way, and letting his Bush hatred get in the way), to look to the Sunni. Either Shia or Kurd triumphalism can blow this up as well, and especially Shia. The election puts things in an unstable spot in terms of dynamics, important to get Sunnis into play because else there is no real op, there is only civil war.
January 31st, 2005 at 6:19 pm
It takes a fair amount of wisdom, after being at the bottom for so long as the Shiites have, to reach the top and make some concessions from a position of moral strength. Mandela did it, realizing the critical need for Afrikaner- Anglo skills in SA ‘s economy. Arafat could not close that kind of a deal with the Israelis.
Sistani’s influence right now would appear to be pivotal and the window of opportunity for a deal is there – but I expect it would close rapidly if left to sit. We know who speaks for the Kurds, who can do so for the Sunnis – at least the non-nut segment that wants reasonable assurances of security and respect before they will throw in with a new regime ?
January 31st, 2005 at 9:11 pm
Hopefully there can be rapprochement between the Sunnis and everyone else. But that has to depend on their actions — one cannot have peace with a terrorist enemy.
The largest Sunni party (the Iraqi Islamic Party) has boycotted the elections and Sunni turnout is quite low. Two insurgencies are being fought from the Sunni lands (Ba’athi and Salafist), and insurgents cannot exist without a sympathetic population.
When we brought peace to the Balkans, the Serbs refused to accept the new order. The dismemberment of the federal republic and the occpation of part of Serbia (Kosovo) to trigger the despair that lead to their peaceful revolution.
Mandela had a peaceful minority to deal with, which Allawi et al do not have. In South Africa a strong economy meant preserving as much of the original infrastructure as possible. But in Iraq the infrastructure is decrepit and what is rebuilt is destroyed by Sunni insurgents, protected by the Sunni people.
Bringing 80% of Iraq (Kurdistan and Shia Iraq) into the modern world is better than the status quo ante bellum. We cannot sacrifice the free Iraq out of a misguided effort to connect all of Iraq immediately.
February 1st, 2005 at 4:12 am
That may be our fallback option if a deal cannot get cut – even peeling off a chunk of the Sunni demographic would be better than nothing.
We might have to look at harsher options if the Sunnis balk:http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/is-war-in-iraq-lost-andrew-sullivan-in.html
February 2nd, 2005 at 8:41 pm
“By the way, this comment is stupid:
This is especially troubling considering many of the Middle East challenges stem from Fascism.The Middle East’s challenges do not stem from fascism. I have no fucking clue where that came from, but fascism is not a MENA problem”
No doubt a sentiment from the “left” – typical foul mouthed and insulting when ideas don’t jive with one parochial viewpoint.
February 2nd, 2005 at 9:06 pm
Useful links for the uninformed of Islamic Fascism.
Followed by plenty of others when one Google’s “islamic fascism.”
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