Monday, January 31, 2005

Some thoughts on the election

The Iraqi election, that is.

First off, fewer people dead than was expected. This is a good thing, as far as that goes. It's hard to get excited about slightly less bodies to pile, but that's where we're at.

More troubling is the near-total marginalization of Sunnis in this election. The Sunni community is likely to have less than 10% representation in the drafting of their constitution. Given that they already feel they're being screwed out of Iraq's oil by the Kurds and Shia, and given that they're already heavily armed, this doesn't bode well for a post-American civil war. Now, smarter people than I (namely Robert Fisk) think that civil war is a bogeyman that the US is using to justify it's continued presence, but I'm not sure he's right.

Finally, I hereby deputize all my readers to physically harm anyone who thinks this is a success for Bush. Be proportional - no severed limbs. We should all remember that the first Proconsul in Baghdad (Jay Garner) was fired because he wanted elections in late 2003. Bush could have a) greatly improved the US's image in the muslim world and b) possibly saved hundreds of his soldiers lives by holding the elections early. Doing so before the insurgency really got going in early 2004 would have seriously undercut the legitimacy of people like Sadr. Even after Bush consented to elections, at first they wanted only US-picked "caucuses" to be eligible to vote. Ayatollah Sistani had to send a few million Shia to the streets to get the US to relent.

So, elections were never what the US wanted - this is, if anything, Plan D or E. That the Iraqis have forced the US to allow elections is indeed a moving fact, but I don't think it's the angle Fox News is going with. Comparing Bush to an eastern-european dictator probably isn't on tonight's talking points.

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