Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraq election: Some metrics for success 

Naturally, Bush was out there torquing ("spin" is way, way too mild) the Iraqi elections hard, calling them a success a mere four hours after the polls closed, and about seven days before the votes were actually counted.

Here are words that are just a bit more sober. Rami G. Khouri, of the Beirut newspaper Daily Star and the Herald Trib, lays down some markers:

The following key political principles will determine if the election is another American-engineered farce or a meaningful stage in building a new, democratic governance system in Iraq:

-- Will it result in a legitimate, indigenously chosen Iraqi government, as opposed to the noncredible, foreign appointed interim authorities since April 2003?

If most Iraqis see the elected parliament and the new cabinet as legitimate governing authorities, this would finally spur more-rapid economic development and more-effective security forces that can slowly restore a sense of safety and normalcy to everyday life.

-- Will the newly elected parliament promulgate a credible constitutional power-sharing formula for national governance that is agreed to by all major segments of the citizenry?

Compromise transitional governance formulas cobbled together to date have consistently left one or more of the major demographic groups in Iraq quietly grumbling with worried dissatisfaction, formally demanding veto authority, threatening to abstain or secede, or even directly challenging the American occupation authority.

-- Will the election provide Iraqis with sufficient political legitimacy and security for them to work with the United States on a clear, realistic schedule for the departure of American troops? (Sorry, the other foreign troops are meaningless decoration.)

As long as American troops stay in Iraq, the governing authority in Baghdad will always be seen as a puppet that is installed, protected and manipulated by Washington.

It will be clear soon after the election whether most Iraqis view the new parliament and government as legitimate, according to the key criteria of liberating the country from foreign military management and forging a sensible power-sharing governance system that responds to all Iraqis' aspirations and identities.

The likelihood is that some, but not all, elements of this more hopeful scenario will happen, making this election an incremental but crucial step forward in a slow transition to an Iraq that is peaceful, democratic and -- most importantly -- liberated and sovereign.
(via SF Chronicle)

I just don't know. Call me bitter and cynical...

But didn't we just come off an election where the Florida voting rolls were rigged to eliminate eligible Democratic voters?

And didn't we just come off an election where Ohio Democratic voters stood in line for hours, and Republican voters breezed through?

And didn't we just come off an election where we really can't be sure what the vote totals were, because (Republican dominated) voting machine manufacturers have stuck us with bad technology that doesn't leave any kind of paper trail?

And didn't the Republicans in power scoff and sneer at every single one of these concerns?

It's more than a little hypocritcal for the Republicans to be torquing the triumph of democracy abroad, when at home they do everything possible to deny it to all citizens.

And it couldn't be, of course, that Negroponte and the rest of the operatives in the the Republican palace have shared any of their vote-rigging expertise with the Iraqis, could it? Of course not. Please refer all such complaints to the Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

Yes, the Iraqi people who voted were the winners—and probably the only honest players in a ugly game that's rigged in every way it can be.

Great photos, though.

corrente SBL - New Location
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