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Friday, January 28, 2005

Bloody Sunday in Iraq 

Iraq Insurgents Kill 12 As Election Nears
As opposed as I am toward the Iraq War, it must be pointed out that the insurgents are on the wrong side of history here.
Now, I am no historian, but when I studied the history of Germany after WWI, one of its many problems was the general perception that democracy had been "imposed" on them by the allies. Misunderstanding the potential value of democracy, they elected Hitler, who rapidly dismantled it.
Now, it appears the insurgents in Iraq perceive the vote on Sunday as an American imposition on their society, or at least are trying to undermine its likely results by tarring it with the American brush. Originally targeting only those Iraqis who actually worked for the Americans, like translators, the insurgents now target anyone and everyone who shows even the slightest support for the elections themselves. It will be a Bloody Sunday in Iraq, and the question will be, I think, whether the candidates survive to form an assembly.
Juan Cole doesn't appear to be particularly optomistic, but he describes one possibility: "There are, of course, lots of elections in the Arab world. Some are more rigged than others. But there are almost no elections where the sitting prime minister and his party would be allowed to be turned out unexpectedly by an unpredictable and uncontrolled electorate. If Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawi's list does poorly and his political star falls as a result of a popular vote, something democratic will have happened in Iraq, for all the serious problems with the elections."
What are the chances of a clear-cut result? There are more than 100 different "parties" running, and I don't know how any Iraqi citizen could decide which to vote for. And given how chaotic the voting will be, not to mention the difficulties of gathering and counting and certifying the ballots both inside and outside Iraq, it will apparently be a week or two before the results are declared.
The results may be fragmented, but they will be honest, at least. I am proud that Canada is stepping forward to provide international endorsement of the Iraqi election by organizing the International Mission for Iraqi Elections to work on the three Iraq votes planned for this year, including Sunday's vote. Supporting democracy is always the right thing to do.

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