Voting is Done

Now comes the hard part, which is a hell of a thing to say about Iraq, considering how hard everything has been for Iraqis for so long. Good luck to the Iraqis. They’re going to need it, and I don’t mean that in the dismissive sarcastic sense in which it’s usually meant. They’re actually going to need some good luck; there are a lot of people who want the idea of democracy in Iraq to fail, and not just the terrorists.

It’s an understatement to say that I’ve not been a fan of how the Iraqi occupation has been handled by the Bush administration, nor does it appear very likely that I’m going to suddenly change my opinion on that score. But these elections count as a success, and one that the Bush folks can rightly feel proud about. I’m not at all sanguine about the potential of the Bushies to snatch failure out of the slavering jaws of success, but that’s not the same as hoping for it. Far from it — I’m hoping this ends up a nice fat foreign policy coup for Bush, because the end result would be new functioning democracy in the Middle East, which is not exactly riddled with them, and democracy, as we all know, is the worst kind of government there is except every other kind.

What would be really interesting (and, to be clear, which I absolutely don’t expect to happen) would be if the newly-elected national government of Iraq thanked the US for its service and politely asked it to take all its people and go. That would indeed be a test of US intentions; I’m sure the families of US servicepeople wouldn’t mind. But it is, of course, a mere hypothetical. We’ll be there for a while yet, and I don’t imagine things are going to get better quickly.

But again — it’s the first step. And it was a test of faith that Iraqis passed with flying colors. People were out and about trying to kill Iraqis to keep them from voting (and killed four dozen), but the turnout appears to be in the 55% of registered voters range, which is in the same neighborhood as the 2004 US election. It takes more than a small amount of courage to vote when the suicide bombers are out and about. Another test of faith will be to see how all the Iraqis fare under the new government — the Sunnis, who held power with Saddam, largely boycotted the election, and I’m interested to see what that means for the new government.

As I said: Now comes the hard part. But it’s good to have gotten to the hard part at all. Iraq and the US could have (and in the case of the US, should have) arrived at it with more grace. But it would be foolish not to be thankful Iraq is there. I’m not that foolish.

9 Comments on “Voting is Done”

  1. I got such a laugh out of the comentary on how the validity of the election could be called into question by voter turnouts that would match or beat American turnouts.

    Maybe we need to reconsider the validity of our own elections, given the fact that we can’t muster up a higher percentage than the Iraqi’s can – despite being threatened by nothing worse at the polls than a mind-numbing sense of ennui.

  2. Dwarf:

    “Iraqi officials said there were 14.2 million eligible voters for the election in Iraq and another 280,000 expatriates registered to vote worldwide.” — CNN

    So by this estimation, the voting age population of Iraq is 284 million? Odd, since the CIA fact book puts the entire population at some 25 million.

    A little simple math here would have told you that your assertion is extremely likely to have been incorrect.

    Also, it’s actually mildly irritating to me that you would spout this assert this as fact when even the guy writing it presents it in the form of a “I heard that…” rumor-like column. I mean, even the *UN* is provisionally pleased with the turnout:

    –“If the results are confirmed — and the only reason to be cautious is the lack of a complete picture — then it is very good news,” said Carlos Valenzuela, the United Nations’ election chief in Iraq, referring to turnout.–

    I found *all* of this information in just a couple of minutes. You could have done the same; instead you’re wandering around presenting people an easily disprovable “fact” as if it were truth. You can do better.

  3. “Facts”, “math”…pfft, you’re such a stodgy old stick in the mud.

    Next thing you know, you’re going to want people to use some of that “logic” as well.

    Seriously though, I’m agree with your sentiments. I expected to be reading about hundreds or thousands dead on election day, and it’s a great victory for our forces and (more importantly) Iraq that they were able to carry off an election with a relatively low number of casualties.

    Interestingly, this makes me wonder about the nature of the opposition in Iraq. The Bush administration line is that we’re fighting well-organized terrorist organizations, but it seems to me if that was really the case, there would have at least been more attempts at violence yesterday. It seems to me that the enemy may well be much more disorganized than we’ve been led to believe.

  4. One concern that popped to mind – if people were being threatened and warned no to vote, would we really want to identify the voters with indelible ink?

  5. Where else will we get the fodder to prove that we still need to have a military presence there to defend democracy? We can only rely on the deaths of our sons and daughters to take us so far. At some, point we have to have a “See, I told you they needed us.” moment.

  6. I’m pleased with the randomness of the terrorist attacks on Election day.

    Really, the thing to do would have been to VERY meaningfully suppress the vote in a region more or less controlled by their sympathizers. That way they can say, “We were disenfranchised by your dumb election, we don’t support the results. Your Democracy is horse-pooh!”

    Thankfully, that’s not what happened. Possibly because they were actually incapable of it (which would be a feather for the appropriate Iraqis and Americans responsible for the security situation), but also possibly because they aren’t used to playing the “Victimize Yourself” game. Either way, the Sunnis were only slightly disenfranchised.

    Now I just hope Allawi loses.

    It shows that the Iraqis feel comfortable enough to vote for somebody not already in power. (Yes, this is a big issue. Iraq had “elections” which resulted in death or imprisonment of anybody who failed to vote for the current leader)

    Some of the Iraqis currently don’t know if Allawi is a puppet, or if the Americans are rigging the election. So, if the person the Americans put in place is deposed democratically, both of those concerns are put to rest in a small flourish of democratic change-of-power.

  7. Yeah, I’m a cynic. Is there any truth to the rumor that Iraqi’s would be denied food rations if they didn’t vote?

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