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Iraqi Elections II

Looks reasonably successful so far, no mass casualties, turnout low only in a few trouble spots. It's time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they return to previous hawk practice of not mentioning Iraq. The interesting thing to watch, I think, will be whether or not Shiite political unity starts to break down now that the elections are behind us.

January 30, 2005 | Permalink

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» The Shifting Goalposts from Balloon Juice
First, they said the elections couldn't/wouldn't happen. Then, they said they would happen, but they would be wracked with violence... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 10:21:10 AM

» Compare and Contrast from Spartac.us
Oliver Willis: You know, I really wish Iraq were having an honest, safe, real election. But that isn't happening, and that's a shame. Even if you were and are opposed to this war, as I am, you woul... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 12:40:09 PM

» Blogospheric Round-Up: Elections in Iraq from PoliBlog: Politics is the Master Science
A trip around the Blogosphere (and yes, with a heavy dose of my blogroll, although not exclusively): From on the ground, Omar at IRAQ THE MODEL has post called "The People have won." The money quote:I walked forward to my station, cast my vote an... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 12:51:00 PM

» Why Do They Hate Democracy [*]? from Shot In The Dark
Leftyblogger, George Soros employee and giggly fratboy Oliver Willis:You know, I really wish Iraq were having an honest, safe, real election. But that isn't happening, and that's a shame. Even if you were and are opposed to this war, as... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 1:07:29 PM

» Hawks Don't Talk About Iraq from Mudville Gazette
Matthew Yglesias: Looks reasonably successful so far, no mass casualties, turnout low only in a few trouble spots. It's time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 2:32:48 PM

» Blinded By The Spite from Balloon Juice
Oliver doesn't like Geraldo Rivera's coverage of the elections much. Sayeth the 'moderate' Democrat: Geraldo Rivera and Fox News, a... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 2:56:15 PM

» The Elections from Kalblog
Wretchard: Commentators have pointed out that elected candidates may subsequently express views which may be regarded as anti-American; but if the US, which is the occupying power, is to be bound by the result, as is consistent with the concept... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 3:07:19 PM

» Moving The Goalposts from Say Anything
This from Balloon Juice: First, critics* said the elections couldn't/wouldn't happen. Then, critics* said they would happen, but they would be wracked with violence and no one would vote because the ballots were too confusing or the security situ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 4:37:58 PM

» Moving The Goal Posts from Ace of Spades HQ
This from Balloon Juice: First, critics* said the elections couldn't/wouldn't happen. Then, critics* said they would happen, but they would be wracked with violence and no one would vote because the ballots were too confusing or the security situation ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 4:39:20 PM

» Election Day Round-Up from Sortapundit
There's been a lot of pooh-poohing (I love that expression) of the Iraqi elections around the blogosphere today - unsurprisingly, much of it has come from that vocal, shrill portion of the left that seems to hate civilisation so much. Matt Yglesia... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2005 5:28:29 PM

» Iraqi Elections: Right Wing Gloating? from Outside The Beltway
Matt Yglesias, while generally conceding that the elections themselves went well, laments that It's time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they return to previous hawk prac... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2005 9:37:14 AM

» Iraq: So what now? from CommentaryPage.com
Iraqis have voted. Will this change the atmosphere? Some on left say no. Matthew Yglesias feels that the elections changed nothing. And Juan Cole… well, you can imagine what that “informed” gasbag has to say (I can’t even bring myself... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2005 3:08:04 PM

Comments

It's no surprise that elections are going well. Guerillas do not pick fights when their enemy is on high alert and is ready for them. They hide out and wait for more opportune moments. We have seen this repeatedly from the Iraqi insurgents.

Meanwhile, it would be nice for the left to capitalize on the right's excitement about democracy in Iraq by focusing attention on ways to improve democracy in the US---i.e. restoring confidence by ensuring better transparency and security in the use of voting machines; by making election day a federal holiday, etc. If the right is so excited about democracy, what excuse have they for opposing improvements to ours?

Posted by: david arkush | Jan 30, 2005 10:33:52 AM

Gloating: hell yeah. All the lefties and naysaeyers were wrong. Bush was right. Period.

"nothing has really changed"??? WHAT??? This is really an asinine statement. EVERYTHING has changed. Iraq will soon have the ONLY LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT in the entire Muslim Middle East.

Really, I can't believe the leftie blogosphere is going to try to downplay the significance of these elections just to spite George Bush. Pathetic. Nothing has changed? Come on, Matthew.

July 5, 1776? Matthew blogs: "nothing has changed". Yeah, it's those same crew in charge: Washington, Adams, Hamilton and the rest. Nothing changed. Somebody please tell all of these idiots going to parades on every July 4 that nothing changed on July 4, 1776. Nothing changed.

Posted by: Al | Jan 30, 2005 10:49:37 AM

Jesus, I guess I'm not jaded enough yet, but the mere fact that these people have braved mortar fire to have a say for the first time in their lives is moderately inspiring. To say that the basic situation is unchanged is true in a trivial sense, but the point is you will now have a government with the job of making actual decisions about the country's future. It could break down in chaos and refusal to compromise, but they've got their shot now, and I can't work up enough ennui to write it off as "just an election."

Posted by: rd | Jan 30, 2005 10:49:53 AM

Why shouldn't we gloat? If 10% of the population had shown up to vote, and then been promptly beheaded, the left would be gloating.

The insurgents set the goal themselves: Stopping the election. And they failed. All the killings and death threats couldn't prevent people from voting. Says something you might not want to hear, about how much support this insurgency really has among Iraqis.

Now, I'll grant you that the real challenge for any new democracy isn't the first election, it's the second. But this IS, none the less,a significant milestone.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Jan 30, 2005 11:10:36 AM

You must be immensely cynical, Matthew, to post that "nothing has changed" in the face of this tremendous outpouring of hope. I came to this blog as a right-of-center voter believing that I would find, at least today, unity in the blogosphere in celebration of this momentous occassion. But apparently even the more allegedly temperate of the left's bloggers cannot look past their own partisan bias to celebrate the joy and enthusiasm of people practicing democracy for the first time in 50 years.

Posted by: Fish | Jan 30, 2005 11:12:10 AM

"July 5, 1776? Matthew blogs: "nothing has changed". Yeah, it's those same crew in charge: Washington, Adams, Hamilton and the rest. Nothing changed. Somebody please tell all of these idiots going to parades on every July 4 that nothing changed on July 4, 1776. Nothing changed."

Elections took place on July 4, 1776?

Posted by: Joel | Jan 30, 2005 11:32:18 AM

Al, is your son/daughter fighting in Iraq? Are you dimly aware that real people are suffering profoundly everyday in Iraq? That real American families are devastated every day because of Iraq? That Iraqi families have been devastated in the tens of thousands? Does George Bush lose sleep each night struggling with these questions? I hope the elections represent a turning point in Iraq, for the sake of all that have suffered and will suffer while the rest of us pontificate in comfort on political blogs.

Posted by: Paul | Jan 30, 2005 11:33:06 AM

"No mass casualties" = "reasonably successful"? Expectations lowered much?
Interesting to see the righties recycling their "Statue fell--everything will be great now!," "Saddam's been captured--everything will be great now!," and "Sovereignty's been handed over--everything will be great now!" posts.

Posted by: William Burns | Jan 30, 2005 11:34:23 AM

It might work out? No way! And it only cost-- what?--$200 billion and counting, a major disruption in diplomacy with old allies, and tied up a major chunk of the world's most powerful army for the foreseeable future.

Ever since Bush's adventure looked inevitable (over two years ago, ignoring some wishful thinking) I have been trying hard to avoid the trap of wishing for failure. Not that that's a big deal, since my wishes don't affect the outcome anyway, but it does seem wrong to wish for more suffering even as a consequence of terrible policy.

No matter how this turns out, there is still the question of whether it's worth the cost. Neocons are going to say that I'm an evil person to suggest that cost is an issue when we are talking about "bringing democracy" to oppressed peoples. This is just so much horsesh*t.

Unless US resources have become unlimited all of a sudden, cost is and will remain an issue, as will the risk of sending troops abroad. Even if the outcome of the Iraq war turns out good on some level, there will still be the question of whether the resources needed to buy this hypothetical good could have been spent more effectively pursuing better foreign policy. Bush has never had a credible answer for why we chose Iraq instead of any other possibility, and I don't expect the elections to provide him with a good post hoc explanation.

Anyway, without wishing failure on Bush, I'm honestly not all that worried at this point that he's going to start making very good decisions given his track record.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Jan 30, 2005 11:34:35 AM

Elections took place on July 4, 1776?

Are you not aware what happened on that date? You tell me what "changed".

Posted by: Al | Jan 30, 2005 11:40:12 AM

Paul, are you aware that there were millions of Iraqis suffering BEFORE we invaded?

Posted by: Al | Jan 30, 2005 11:41:20 AM

Al, are you aware that there were and are hundreds of millions of people suffering outside of Iraq?

Do you claim to have a cost-benefit argument that justifies Iraq on bang-for-buck against suffering? No need to answer that, by the way, because I'll admit it's a strawman and there might be strategic reasons for invading one particular country at great cost.

But PLEASE just spare me the malarkey about suffering people. On a bang-for-buck argument, the group with the best approach is probably something closer to the Gates Foundation, focusing on widespread, curable diseases.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Jan 30, 2005 11:53:27 AM

Oops. Al was probably responding to a different Paul. Anyway, my response can stand as is.

FWIW, I give Al some credit on his Parkagate comment for at least conceding that Cheney could in principal have been outfitted in more appropriate attire without compromising his health.

That's more than you get from most Bush apologists, who if pressed would probably defend Cheney's motley as perfect right down to the "Staff 2001" on his cap.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Jan 30, 2005 11:58:37 AM

"Are you not aware what happened on that date? You tell me what "changed"."

Indeed I am. It was not an election, it was a declaration of independence.

What changed on July 4, 1776 is that a subject people declared its intention to sever connections with its colonial masters. It what sense is that analogous to what's happening in Iraq?

For there to be an analogy between the Iraqi elections and July 4, 1776, there would have to have been elections on July 4, forced on the colonists by the occupying British forces. There wasn't. Your lame appeal to a false analogy between American democracy and the Iraqi puppet government is entirely ahistorical, Al.

I'll grant you, the electorate at the time was about as representative as it is in the present Iraqi elections (no women, no slaves), but not much else is analogous.

Posted by: Joel | Jan 30, 2005 12:13:02 PM

"to have a say for the first time in their lives..."

But a say in what, exactly? aa

"the point is you will now have a government with the job of making actual decisions about the country's future."

Just how much of a real say they will have remains to be seen.

Posted by: Shirin | Jan 30, 2005 12:19:13 PM

"are you aware that there were millions of Iraqis suffering BEFORE we invaded?"

Al, are you aware that your invasion increased the suffering of Iraqis at least a thousandfold?

Posted by: Shirin | Jan 30, 2005 12:23:17 PM

Joel, are SCIRI and al daawa american puppets? Do explain!

Posted by: Calamity Jean | Jan 30, 2005 12:36:31 PM

Al, are you aware that your invasion increased the suffering of Iraqis at least a thousandfold?

Yes Al, whereas before the invasion there were millions of Iraqis suffering, now there are BILLIONS! BILLIONS AND BILLIONS {spoken in funny Carl Sagan voice...}

Posted by: Calamity Jean | Jan 30, 2005 12:37:59 PM

“Joel, are SCIRI and al daawa american puppets? Do explain!”


Are SCIRI and al daawa currently running a freely elected government in Iraq? "No", you say? OK, then your question is a non sequitur.

Ayad Allawi is the current prime minister of Iraq. He is a former MI6 and CIA agent. He would not be in power in Iraq today but for the US. He is entirely beholden to the US. Thus, he is an American puppet.

You need to do some catch-up reading, Jane. Most folks know this already.

Posted by: Joel | Jan 30, 2005 1:11:37 PM

CJ:

(a) There's a literacy device called "hyperbole." It's used to add emphasis. You might want to look it up.
(b) Suffering can go up n-fold without an n-fold increase in the number of suffering people. It depends on the nature of the suffering.

I'm not sure I agree with the claim that suffering is very much higher than during the sanctions period, by the way. But your attempt at a clever rebuttal is just asinine.

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Jan 30, 2005 1:12:04 PM

Are SCIRI and al daawa currently running a freely elected government in Iraq? "No", you say?

Actually, "yes" I say, they will be. I notice critics of elections discussing Allawi quite a bit and Iraq's major political parties not very much at all. Why is this? Are the opinions of 70%+ of eligible voters irrelevant to your idea of what a democratic government should look like in Iraq? Is the only relevant data point Iyad Allawi's unsavory personal history?

Paul, yes it was hyperbole, and the original statement was both hyperbolic and dumb. The status quo in Iraq was untenable. 500,000 dead children under sanctions, which depending on who you ask on the left were either "working perfectly" or should have been lifted entirely.

Posted by: Calamity Jean | Jan 30, 2005 1:21:00 PM

"Are the opinions of 70%+ of eligible voters irrelevant to your idea of what a democratic government should look like in Iraq?"

Theoretically, no, but since nobody actually believes that anything like 70%+ eligible voters in Iraq are actually going to vote, this question is another non sequitur.

"Is the only relevant data point Iyad Allawi's unsavory personal history?"

As far as establishing that the current (not a hypothetical and hoped-for future government) government of Allawi is a puppet of the US, it is highly relevant. Also relevant is how he got into office (by American force) and how he is maintained in such limited power as he possesses today (by American force). Please try to stay on topic.

Posted by: Joel | Jan 30, 2005 1:27:57 PM

Bush was right? Bush and his people have been wrong on nearly every decision having to do with this war and the occupation, from the way it was justified to the way it was executed. Any person with the remotest sense of intellectual honesty knows this. And I say this as someone who supported the war.

An important point that seems to have been forgotten is that if it was up to the people Bush appointed, we wouldn't even be having this election now. The Jan. 31 date for elections was forced on Paul Bremer by Ayatollah Sistani. It was only after Sistani called for demonstrations and the hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets that Bremer was forced to relent.

Afterwards, Bush treated the election date as if it had been his idea, and made big show of 'resoluteness' in not delaying the elctions. But the truth is he had no choice in the matter. The US's decisions were dictated by the necessity of keeping Sistani on board.

Posted by: RC | Jan 30, 2005 1:33:45 PM

. Please try to stay on topic.

Hah! the topic is Iraqi elections and yet you refuse to discuss any of the 75 parties participating in them. For obvious reasons you are fixated upon the unelected Allawi.

Posted by: Calamity Jean | Jan 30, 2005 1:38:05 PM

The topic is how, after the election, nothing will really have changed. Al challenged this with a specious comparison to the date the Declaration of Independence was signed. I pointed out, a propos of the topic, that July 4, 1776 was marked by no elections at all.

No wonder you're not keeping up--you can't even read!

After the elections, there will still be a government that, like the present government, is entirely beholden to the US and will do or say nothing that fundamentally goes against American policy. Puppets in, puppets out.

Posted by: Joel | Jan 30, 2005 1:46:45 PM

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