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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraqi Elections

Juan Cole's musings about the Iraqi elections appear largely accurate, but this is just my general feeling. I honestly have not kept real close watch on day to day affairs in the war zone qua nation of Iraq, depressed about the overall matter, and opposed on principle. For instance, it is a good thing that millions (after being told by the primary spiritual leader of the country that it was their religious duty) had a chance to vote. This is no small matter and worthy of a moment of joy. Nonetheless, as Cole notes, how the whole thing was handled leaves something to be desired. Likewise, lest we give el presidente too much credit, Cole reminds us that the administration was not always so gung ho about elections.

Ultimately, my overall sentiment is that both the ends and the means are problematic, so really we have sort of no win situation. Yes, something good probably will come of all this, partly because Saddam is gone and a more democratic system will be present, partly because the last few decades put forth a low bar. I would note that in some sense the Saddam regime was supported by the people, if only to the degree that they did not care for the immediate alternatives.

Imperfect as this might be, the fact no (real) elections were in place for fifty years (NYT figure) should be put in context. The suggestion that the people at large actually supported a war that laid waste to their country and killed tens of thousands (if not more) of their people is simply unfounded. Thus, the war itself was "undemocratic" as well as in violation of basic freedom.

Anyway, the fact that there are elections -- of the sort where one does not know the candidates -- should not lead us to ignore the corrupt means used to get us here. Using fraudulent and misleading evidence and arguments, our nation declared war on the people of Iraq, resulting in bloodshed and troubling divisions that will haunt us for some time (though it might the Iraqis, including the families of the dead, a lot more).

And, the ends left something to be desired as well. Is it really our role to save the people of Iraq against their will via a war that killed many of them in the process? Is such intervention really likely to improve the situation in the long term? And, yes, some more shall we say fiscal reasons factored in as well. To the degree I'm leaving something out, it probably is not anything that good.

So, yes, I hope for the best. I am not a heartless soul who wants bad things to occur so I can say "I told you so." It just is that with such corrupt means and ends, one is left with an empty feeling. The best result cannot be that good at all.