blogenlust
1.30.2005

Election in Iraq


I'm glad to see that all hell didn't break lose during the Iraqi election, and I'm curious to see what the final numbers are and which parties will have the most control. By most accounts, it seems that the election pretty much played out as expected: The Shiites and Kurds got out the vote, and the Sunnis didn't. Last night I watched about an hour of TV coverage on Fox and MSNBC (itself a bizarre spectacle), and I was struck by how few people were actually at the polling places. Of course, that might be because voter turnout was sporadic throughout Iraq, but you would think that if the media was going to show up at a polling place, they'd show up at a polling place with lots of people. Maybe President Bush was right to lower expectations, or as Sadly, No! points out, maybe he was wrong. I think we would have been able to find "victory" in just about anything that happened today. So, were the elections the "resounding success" President Bush claims them to be? Probably too early to tell, but probably not too early, as Hoder notes, to start hearing confirmations from the neoconservatives that their dangerous experiment "works". Before we start bringing democracy to Iran, though, Juan Cole warns us on what we can expect in the more immediate aftermath of the Iraqi election:
Many of the voters came out to cast their ballots in the belief that it was the only way to regain enough sovereignty to get American troops back out of their country. The new parliament is unlikely to make such a demand immediately, because its members will be afraid of being killed by the Baath military. One fears a certain amount of resentment among the electorate when this reticence becomes clear. Iraq now faces many key issues that could tear the country apart, from the issues of Kirkuk and Mosul to that of religious law. James Zogby on Wolf Blitzer wisely warned the US public against another "Mission Accomplished" moment. Things may gradually get better, but this flawed "election" isn't a Mardi Gras for Americans and they'll regret it if that is the way they treat it.