blogenlust
10.21.2004

Democracy: "Bring it on"


Maybe elections can wait:
Leaders of Iraq's religious parties have emerged as the country's most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today, while the U.S.-backed government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is losing serious ground, according to a U.S.-financed poll by the International Republican Institute. More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction. Within the Bush administration, a victory by Iraq's religious parties is viewed as the worst-case scenario. Washington has hoped that Allawi and the current team, which was selected by U.S. and U.N. envoys, would win or do well in Iraq's first democratic election, in January. U.S. officials believe a secular government led by moderates is critical, in part because the new government will oversee writing a new Iraqi constitution. "The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we've spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation's democracy efforts, we're in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because the poll has not been released.
I submit that it would be ironic if our war in Iraq turned two mortal enemies into Islamic Fundamentalist allies. Oh, and it gets worse:
But in another blow, one out of three Iraqis blames the U.S.-led multinational force for Iraq's security problems, slightly more than the 32 percent who blame foreign terrorists, the poll shows. Only 8 percent blame members of the former government. "We had convinced everyone -- Americans and Iraqis -- that things might change with the return of sovereignty, but, in fact, things went the other way," a congressional staff member said. "What's particularly damning is that the multinational force gets more blame than the terrorists for the problems in Iraq. It's all trending in the wrong way . . . and it's not likely we'll be able to change public sentiment much before the election. " In positive news for the administration, the poll found that 85 percent of Iraqis want to vote in the January election.
If one out of three Iraqis are blaming us for the security problem (and their probably at least half right), then we're in deep shit. That means there is an awful lot of popular sympathy for the Iraqi insurgency, which will make it virtually impossible for us to subdue it. And I love how the "positive news" for the Administration is that 85% of the population is going to be voting for religious hard-liners.