May 26, 2004

Vote early, vote often

Posted by shonk at 04:30 AM in Politics | TrackBack

Just a quick theory on why elections in Iraq are currently scheduled for January (but which might be moved up to as early as December) in spite of the fact that the official transfer of power in Iraq is supposed to take place in late June: holding those elections before the U.S. presidential election in November could well be disastrous for the Bush administration. Why? Because, as the cynics have been saying all along, Iraq is not suitable for a Western-style democracy at this point in time. A truly free and honest election would likely result in a pretty reactionary government, precisely the sort of thing continued U.S. involvement after the official end of the war was supposed to prevent. Simply put, fundamentalist candidates winning the election in Iraq would nullify practically the entire justification for the ongoing U.S. occupation and, as such, would pretty much destroy whatever credibility the administration still has among moderates. This, in turn, means there can be no election in Iraq before the pesky domestic one is taken care of.

Again, you might ask “Why?” After all, it’s not like the U.S. hasn’t staged fake elections in other countries before (hello Nicaragua!). However, in this case, given the almost overwhelming scrutiny that is sure to come to bear on the Iraqi elections, blatant electoral fraud (which, again, I suspect would be the only way to ensure that moderate candidates gain a plurality) seems unlikely to pass unnoticed. And can you imagine the righteous fury on the part of Democrats if elections were held in Iraq before November and systematic electoral fraud to help “moderate” (read: cozy with the Bush administration) candidates were uncovered?

The point is, pre-November elections are a damned-if-you-do,-damned-if-you-don’t proposition for the administration and I can’t but think that’s the real reason elections won’t be held until January, or December at the earliest.

Oh, and just so as to dispel any hint of partisanship here, let me just state for the record I’m already pre-warming the disgust node in my brain on the off chance that Kerry is elected, because he and his followers will inevitably fall all over themselves in appeasing whatever fundamentalist scumbag rises to the surface in Iraq come January. Whether or not that puts him on a higher moral plane than Bush is, of course, something you’ll have to decide for yourself.


good point. i think the only way this election mess (in iraq) will work is if we make them adopt a very strong, widely accepted constiution that enshrines religious freedom, political equality, etc. a strong federal court system packed with the right judges would also help (is this classic american thinking or what?).

they may also find some way for the different regions of iraq to cast the actual vote, based on popular results, a la electoral college...thus balancing the effect of the fundementalists' votes.

though i grant the situations are different, it is interesting to remember that the federalists in the 1770s were worried about the very same thing over here.

Posted by: Elliot at May 26, 2004 09:50 AM

I imagine you are probably right about our government's reasons for putting off elections, but I am not entirely sure why on a personal view you take such a dim view of "fundamentalists" getting elected in Iraq. Of course I hate religious zealots in power as much as anyone, but given the pretty dismal realities of Iraqi politics, where your definition of a "moderate" is someone who is "cozy with the Bush administration," it seems very possible to me that a religiously-affiliated candidate, probably someone close to Sistani, as the prospective interim president, Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani, seems to be, may be the only possible leader who is not 1)utterly corrupt 2)connected to the old government and/or 3)entirely compromised by association with Americans. And, to tell you the truth, despite his invocations against masturbation, Sistani, for example, in most ways appears a good deal more measured and sage than our own leaders (too bad is not in English so one could read more of his actual edicts).

Posted by: Curt at May 26, 2004 01:23 PM

p.s. Of course I am aware that there are perhaps worse vices in leaders than corruption and dependence on foreign powers. A religious leader could emerge in Iraq who is not corrupt and very independent and yet be a fanatic and a murderer, like al-Sadr. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that this would be true any more than in the case of a secular leader, and my main point is that coming from the religious community, i.e. presumably having few connections to either Saddam or the Americans, may be the only condition under which a leader in Iraq could have a chance of being reasonably successful. Of course such a leader could still be a menace to humanity, but given our government's former support of Saddam, I don't think they are really the best judges of that.

Posted by: Curt at May 26, 2004 01:32 PM

but I am not entirely sure why on a personal view you take such a dim view of “fundamentalists” getting elected in Iraq.

I don't, necessarily. My point was simply that, given the current rhetoric, fundamentalists getting elected would be disastrous for the administration.

Posted by: shonk at May 26, 2004 01:39 PM