It’s a bit premature to draw any conclusions about the results of the elections in Iraq, but I’m obviously following the news from there as closely as I can.
And yes, it does look like the secular parties haven’t done as well as some folks (me) might have hoped. But to be honest, I’m not panicked. The issue isn’t whether people we like get elected; the issue is – broadly – whether the government of Iraq will behave within – again, broadly – acceptable boundaries in its foreign and domestic policies. And vastly more important, whether the people of Iraq will be able to review the government in a few years’ time and change it if they choose to.
If what results is a true mullahocracy as in Iran, where candidates must be approved by the ruling religious figures before they can run, then the Juan Coles of the world can stick their chests out and crow a bit.
I said in the past that it was unlikely that Baghdad would approximate Irvine any time soon, or that the Rotarians would be likely to wind up running things in the next decade (note that I don’t see having Rotarians running things as a bad thing). One step at a time, and in this case, the step is simple – governments get established – and changed, if the people so choose – freely at the ballot box. We’ll work on the other stuff later.
A famous U.S. politician once said “The people have spoken, damn them.” Here’s hoping that Iraqi politicians are saying the same thing in the next few years. Meanwhile, let’s watch and wait, let the process work, and spend less time on the Isle of Conclusion.