The Voting In Iraq

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.

25 thoughts on “The Voting In Iraq”

  1. First, its probably less bleak of an outcome than one would think. Its wrong (if typical of the lazy MSM) to indicate the “Islamists” as a single block. They are not. There are Shiia Islamists and Sunni. Some of the Shiia are in the Sistani camp, some in the Sadr. And a thousands more distinctions beyond that. Coallitions will be built.
    Secondly, what really concerns me is those phantom Iranian trucks full of ballots. The thing about voter fraud is that its pretty labor and time intensive to do it in any meaningful way. Without, say a truckload of ballots, you’re really just spittin into the river. Then again, if you had 3 truckloads… Something about that story still bothers me.

  2. The other problem we may run into is that Sunnis have habitually maintained they are a greater percentage of the population than they can possibly be. When the results of the election refute this, the Sunni could take that as direct evidence of their disenfranchisement (as opposed to a dose of reality). People tend to believe what they want to believe.

  3. This about sums up the radical “democracy now” US contingent’s FUBAR adventure in Iraq.

    DIANA WEST
    December 23, 2005

    Not to curdle the Christmas pudding or anything, but it’s hard to see how Uncle Sam comes out a winner in any of the elections that have just taken place, however historically, in the Arab world.
    This isn’t to contradict President Bush, who said, referring to Iraq’s parliamentary elections, we’re seeing “something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East.” Sure, campaign posters and ballot boxes are new. But the emerging nature of this constitutional democracy — from Iraq to Egypt to the Palestinian Authority — calls into question whether, as the president also said in referring to Iraq, “America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror.”
    For that statement to be true, Arab voters would need to be electing brave anti-jihadists, right? They would be dunking their fingers in purple ink for reform-minded advocates of equality and freedom of conscience, not to mention peace with Israel. But with nearly two-thirds of the ballots counted in Iraq, the initial headlines tell a different story.
    “Parties Linked to Tehran Gain in Iraq,” reported the New York Sun.
    “Secular candidates not doing well,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
    Apparently, that’s putting it mildly. So far, election returns indicate that the Shi’ite Muslim religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), has overcome internal tensions and weak projections to win a dominating bloc of parliamentary seats. That means that the democratic enterprise in Iraq appears to have empowered proponents of sharia law with alarmingly close ties to the terror masters of Iran.
    Little wonder, then, that something approaching jubilation is the reaction in Tehran. “We share this victory with the Iraqi nation because we paid a price for its preparation, said Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, making reference to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Usually described as Iran’s “pragmatic conservative” in the Western media (not necessarily saying much), Mr. Rafsanjani continued: “It is a victory because the results were the opposite of what the Americans were seeking.”

  4. It is so interesting to read all the commentary about this election. Yes, indeed, the results are not ideal from the point of view of those of us who would have preferred the secularists to have done better. Just as clearly, the results are not surprising, nor even very different from the results of last year’s elections. In fact, if you go back and look at some of the reports of the January, 2005 elections, you’ll read a lot of similar handwringing and carrying on about how Iraq is now just a puppet of Iran, on the brink of civil war, etc. etc. Take a look.

    I think the best course of action right now is that old chestnut: wait and see.

  5. neo-neocon, yes but some of us had predicted an outcome like this (as well as no WMDs, etc) pre-invasion.

    Yes, it’s a bit of an “I told you so”. However it’s more than one- up-manship. It’s about reminding the country how many of those who opposed the invasion were correct and correct for the right reasons so as to avert future mis-adventures.

    A thorough reading of this blog and many like it will reveal that there is a sizable minority of our population that still wishes to wage democratic crusades, that still sees democracy promotion at the point of a gun as a viable policy in the muslim world.

    These people are deranged and dangerous. It is important to ensure that their POV continues to lose traction with the American public. The best way to achieve that is to simply allow the policy to be seen for what it is.

  6. “…It’s about reminding the country how many of those who opposed the invasion were correct and correct for the right reasons so as to avert future mis-adventures…”

    Well then, I guess you should demonstrate that this was a mis-adventure. So far, avedis, I haven’t seent it.

    Let the Iraqis vote for who they wish. The greater disaster would be if they voted for “who we wanted”. We shouldn’t want anybody. To think such a thing is to fail to understand why we are there in the first place. We are not responsible for peace and security in Iraq anymore: the Iraqis are. We are not crusading: we are supporting a new democracy. Sure they might muck it up. They also might have insights and make compromises that we wouldn’t understand. Isn’t freedom great?

  7. You gotta love the Republicans.

    Try to point out the folly of their Iraq misadventure, and we get a lecture on “Freedom” and its transforming power to protect the world from all Evil.

    But ask them why it is OK for our US President to continually attempt, and succeed in many cases, to restrict or infringe on the Freedom of Americans, and you get a lecture on the need to “make compromises” to protect us from the Evil in the world.

    Let’s get these people in a study to find out if their Corpus Callosum’s have been somehow severed.

  8. Hey Polymer:

    I’m not a republican. I’m a registered independent. Voted for Pubs, Dems, and the midget.

    Freedom protecting us from all evil? LOL! You must not have been listening to the lectures.

    Next time you use a broad brush, remember that there are all sorts of exceptions. If your world is full of black and white, you miss out on a lot of the fun.

    And as for domestic freedoms, that’s another long, nuanced discussion. But I’m sure you’ve got a sound bite that covers it. All is well in your world. (grin)

    Merry Christmas!

  9. C’mon, Daniel, I thought you were quicker than that!

    You see, I’m accusing “Republicans” (and their Registered Independent syncophants) of “using a broad brush”.

    But you/they don’t seem to realize that it’s clear to many that you’re using the same brush to paint one big sloppy picture but are trying to pass it off as separate works of “art”.

    Anyway, I’m not a practicing Christian. If your world view accepts unproven supernatural beliefs and cult thinking, you’re gonna miss out on a lot of fun!

    Anyway…Happy Festivus!

  10. To live in avedis’ world, you have to believe that people who wish to promote freedom and democracy abroad are deranged and dangerous, but people who peddle conspiracist anti-Jewish theories at home are objectively correct.

    Once that’s understood, it becomes pretty easy to take the comments for what they are.

    Polymer Soup’s “obvious” is the long-standing position of much of the Democratic party, plus a decent cut of Republicans. Brent Scowcroft, who described the last 50 years of Mideast history as (I kid you not) “50 years of peace” is a fine example of the latter.

    Republicans (and Democrats) who take money from Saudi clients can be expected to say such things. But the open divorce of the modern Left from any value or commitment placed upon human freedom or betterment remains one of the wonders of our 30s-reprise time.

  11. #10 (polyester suit)

    bq. If your world view accepts unproven supernatural beliefs and cult thinking, you’re gonna miss out on a lot of fun!

    You mean like Taoism, or Buddhism, or Shinto, or Islam, or Wicca, or Santeria, or personally-developed shamanic practice, or Magick, or what?

    Oh, wait, you might have some actual friends that have those world views.

    I apologize in advance for the snark and lack of substance. Perhaps the owner of the thread will apply the Spirit of Xmas and let this stand this once.

    Happy “Newtonmas!”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newtonmas

  12. …”but people who peddle conspiracist anti-Jewish theories at home are objectively correct.”

    And people who make up lies about people who disagree with them should be taken even less seriously, Joe.

    I have never peddled – or otherwise indulged in – anti-Jewish anything.

    Just because I pointed out – and there is ample factual material to support my point – that many “neocons” have synergies with hard right Israeli politics and that conflicts of interest are potentially serious and because I suggested that Israel holds some culpability for the ongoing Palestinian situation, you call me anti-Jewish?

    You’re a real class act Katzman, but typical of your breed (and I’m referring to right-wing lunatics.

    Finally, how can you call handing Iraq over to Irani and other extremists, “promoting freedom”?

  13. Meta:

    I’d have taken this off line but I lack the skillz to figure out how to communicate privately to some participants.

    I see a lot of signs of stress or irritation here. Avedis, it’s quite possible Joe accused you unfairly. But in my experience he’s far from a lunatic. Does saying that make me part of the problem?

    Cheap talk is not a productive response to cheap thinking, but we’re (humans, and bloggers) much habituated to it. Overall, the civility on this site’s comments threads still far exceeds the mean. I will do what I can to keep things that way. How about you?

  14. Joe, you conveniently left out the most blatant example of my “obvious” point in your effort to claim it is predominantly a “leftist” position.

    That involving many top members of the current administration and their support of Saddam Hussein in the 80s.

    And who are you talking about “taking money from Saudi Clients” if not the Bush family???

    But the mind of a Neocon must find an enemy to blame their own folly on, and the “Left” is a frequent recipient of this projection.

    Even, or especially, perhaps, when the ire of their fury should rightfully and logically be directed inward.

    In your mind, I’m sure you will find a way to blame the “Left” for the war in Iraq, or another terrorist attack on US soil, or any other major failing that should rightfully be hung around the necks of the current administration and their Neocon cheering section…in a word, you.

    You can quit the demagoguery about Freedom as well, because the American Right Wing, among all modern political movements in the West, is perhaps the closest to Fascism as any I can think of.

    The SOLE “belief” you can claim illustrates your love of “Freedom” is this straw-man idiocy about the War in Iraq being about Freedom…and as many recognize, that is just a stinking pile of hooey.

  15. I really shouldn’t have logged on today, but since I did …

    * The idea that the UIA is controlled by Iran is a canard that we dealt with last January when the Post was trying to peddle the claim that everybody from the UIA to the PUK were Iranian pawns. Some branches of the UIA (the Sadr loyalists, SCIRI) have substantial ties to Iran that we should be wary of, while others like Jaafari’s Dawaa buddies, are willing to remain neutral in the event that the US attacks Iran. If Allawi had won, the same people now complaining that the UIA is made up of Khomeinists would have been touting him as Saddam reborn. More on that after the holiday season.

    “A thorough reading of this blog and many like it will reveal that there is a sizable minority of our population that still wishes to wage democratic crusades, that still sees democracy promotion at the point of a gun as a viable policy in the muslim world.

    These people are deranged and dangerous. It is important to ensure that their POV continues to lose traction with the American public. The best way to achieve that is to simply allow the policy to be seen for what it is.”

    Were that the case we would prefer that you allow the public (whose opinions with respect to foreign policy are the altar of all righteousness except when they disagree with your own) to receive our vile beliefs unfiltered by frequent accusations of fascism and treason. If we are indeed losing traction with the American public, isn’t dissent supposed to be patriotic?

    “And people who make up lies about people who disagree with them should be taken even less seriously, Joe.”

    I’m with you on that one, avedis. But then given your own propensity for doing so or at least badly distorting others’ arguments (to say nothing of Tom Holsinger’s surname), that would mean that we would have to miss out on these delightful little chats.

    “I have never peddled – or otherwise indulged in – anti-Jewish anything.”

    Your tendency towards using “Israeli” and “Jewish” interchangeably begs to differ, for the reasons that I first noted sometime ago. Whether or not you intend it, statements such as that give off the appearance that you make no measureable distinction between the two, which ends up looking quite a bit like anti-Semitism.

    “Just because I pointed out – and there is ample factual material to support my point – that many “neocons” have synergies with hard right Israeli politics and that conflicts of interest are potentially serious and because I suggested that Israel holds some culpability for the ongoing Palestinian situation, you call me anti-Jewish?”

    Um, no. You have frequently accused the neocons of acting at the behest of the Israeli government, of the Israeli government of exercising at least some degree of control over the United States, and using Israeli and Jewish interchangeably with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first two make you an avowed conspiracy theorist (i.e. postulating that a conspiracy
    is in the works) while the third one leads to the appearance of anti-Semitism, a view bolstered by the amount of vitriole and ad hominem you regularly spew towards those who take issue with you on any of the above.

    And what’s an Irani?

    Polymer Soup:

    “A totally free and Democratic Iraq may not be in America’s best interest.”

    That was the rational for supporting Saddam in the 1980s, anyway. Anybody willing to take the corollary of the statement in quotes to its logical conclusion and declare that our support (and that of numerous other governments) during that period wasn’t such a bad idea after all?

    “That involving many top members of the current administration and their support of Saddam Hussein in the 80s.”

    And was that bad? If it was (and I’ll gladly second you on that score), you might want to revise your statement that a democratic Iraq may not be in America’s best interests. During the 1980s, many of the individuals you now castigate seem to have agreed with you on that score.

    And for someone who seems quite angry about getting castigated over the alleged failings of “the Left,” you seem to have little problem branding the American right as a whole as fascist or at least pseudo-fascist.

    And with that, I now return to my Christmas Eve festivities and would refer those readers interested in perhaps more substantive discussion than refighting the Iraq war or the UIA’s ties to Iran (discussed at length from 2002-2003 and for most of early 2005 respectively) to pay close attention to events along the Chadian-Sudanese border …

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

  16. Sure Dan, whatever. I guess you know so much more about what is *really* happening in Iraq Re: Iranian influence than the major stakeholders over there.

    BTW see below for definition of Irani.

    I thought you were supposed to be some sort of boy wonder when it comes to the region and people. Guess that is just so much more NRO propaganda.

    Language Map:
    WorldMap interactive atlas
    Ethnolinguistic Map:
    University of Texas map collection

    Geography
    Submit Update:
    Country: Iran
    Country Code:
    IR
    Continent:
    Asia
    Region:
    Central Asia
    10/40 Window:
    Yes
    Population in this Country:
    23,534,000
    Location within Country: Throughout Iran.
    (Source: http://www.ethnologue.com)

    People
    Submit Update:
    People Name This Country:
    *Irani*
    People Name General:
    Irani
    Alternate People Names:
    Bagdadi Balochi
    Ebhele Farsi
    Parsiwan Persian
    Qazilbash
    People Code:
    107987
    Population in all Countries:
    27,230,000
    Least-Reached:
    Yes
    Original Joshua Project List:
    Active

    Ethnic Tree
    Affinity Bloc:
    Iranian-Median
    People Cluster:
    Persian
    People Name General:
    Irani
    Ethnic / Culture Code:
    CNT24f

  17. Nice slapdown of the trolls, Dan.

    The Sunnis chose not to vote the previous two positions, so they got outmaneuvered. Badly. Their own fault. If they don’t stop the fantasies about return to Sunni dominance, they’re gonna get outmaneuvered much worse.

    You can’t jump from arab hell to democracy in paradise in a few easy steps. It comes very hard, and very slow.

  18. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Aren’t the Sunni’s reacting EXACTLY like the Democrats reacted after the results of the November Presidential election: the outrage, the disbelief in the stupidity of the winning opponent, and the claims of ballot-tampering?

    The rest of us Americans thought after an election where it became obvious that a hefty majority of us supported Mr. Bush and his war, that the lefty tree-huggers would pipe down. But nooooooooo … that’ hasn’t happened.

    So given this example from the leading democracy in the world, why wouldn’t the Sunni’s just automatically assume that hysterical ankle-biting, and snarky lie-telling is the norm after you’ve lost an election. I’m just waiting for the first disenfranchised Sunni to use the “impeach” word, too.

  19. Waiting on the kids to go to sleep, I thought I’d log back in. Against my better judgement.

    Poly — I also am not a practicing christian. But Merry Christmas anyway. I would like a national Festivus Day — if you can find a candidate to run on that platform he might get my vote.

    Looks like Dan took care of the logic. I hope you all have a great holiday — I guess I can say Jesus on here, can’t I? Well then, Happy Birthday Jesus. The dude is getting to be pretty old.

    And for late-breaking terrorism news, I just blogged about some things you’re not going to see on CNN — http://www.News2Lose.com.

  20. Im not entirely sure i understand the jist of this argument, but if it suggesting Iraqi Shiia are identical to Iranian Shiia, that is simply false. Aside from the Arab-Persian distinction, there are desperate histories and cultures to both. Persians view Arabs much like Japanese view Chinese and vice-versa. The insinuation that all the Mullahs have to do is crook their finger and the Iraqi Shiia will come running to thier skirts is utterly wrong. For everything they share in common there is something that divides them, a long and bloody war less than a generation ago not the least of which.

  21. “I guess I can say Jesus on here, can’t I?”

    You may offend our friends of the Jewish faith and for this simple thing Dan will lable you an anti-semite.

  22. Everything in the post above is remarkably foolish and false. Worse, leaving Iraq in 90 days is the worst thing we could do. First it would obviously pull defeat from the jaws of victory and leave Iraqis to the wolves (again). Perhaps worse, it would allow nonserious posers like EPU to spend the next 50 years claiming the US handed Iraq to Zarqawi. Becuase we are so _evil_.

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