11/19/2004: Did George W. Bush step on his dick?
Well, let's leave aside that the probability is that George's dick ain't anywhere near that long. I'm speaking metaphorically, of course. Today Juan Cole poses the interesting point that the stated purpose of the Fallujah operation, paving the way for elections in Iraq in January, may have in fact undermined those very elections:
Among the justifications given by the US for its campaign against guerrillas in Fallujah was that it would prepare the way for elections in January. It was said that elections could not be held as long as major cities were not even in government control.But of course, Bush can't do anything right (he traded Sammy Sosa, fergawd's sake....):
It seems likely, however, that the Fallujah offensive has so deeply alienated the Sunni Arab populace of Iraq, which is probably 4 million to 4.5 million strong, that it has ensured that they will boycott the polls as American-sponsored. The political goals of the Fallujah campaign, in other words, were foredoomed to failure, even if military objectives were met, with the capture and destruction of thousands of pounds of explosives intended for other cities.
(Most of the military goals probably weren't met either, however, since the guerrillas could easily reestablish themselves and the guerrilla war seems likely to go on at much the same pace as before for the foreseeable future. There are after all 250,000 tons of explosives and ammunitions unaccounted for in Iraq, which the US allowed the guerrillas to raid and store).Yep, when you elect a "CEO" who's been a failure at almost every single business enterprise he's entered, and had to be bailed out by his daddy's friends at just about every turn, you should expect this type of incompetence.
Don't blame me, I didn't vote for the bastard.
But back to Prof. Cole. He also notes:
the major Shiite parties insist that the electoral timetable be adhered to. They are following the line of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, that elections must be held as early as possible at all costs, to produce a legitimate Iraqi government. They say that if the elections are not held in some places of the Sunni Arab heartland, that is not important.Right now, speaking ex cathedra out of my navel, I'm convinced that there will be no elections in January, because a big push by the insurgency will insure that Iraq is in sufficient chaos to make an election impossible. But I am probably wrong on that.... Still, I've never let that stop me before.
But they are wrong. The Americans crafted the election as a national one, in order to make it more difficult for strongly local and sectarian political forces to do well. The party lists that fare best will be those with strongest national support. The down side of this plan is that if a major constituency, such as the Sunni Arabs, boycotts, then they will get virtually no seats and the legitimacy of the resulting parliament would be weakened.
If elections are held in January, I see only one way to avoid disaster. This would be some sort of emergency decree by the current government that sets aside, say, 20% of seats in parliament for the Sunni Arabs. This procedure would seat Sunni Arab candidates in order of the popularity of their lists and in order of their rank within the lists on which they run. But the results would essentially be "graded on a curve." In a way, this procedure is already being followed for women, who are guaranteed 30% of seats. This solution is Lebanon-like and is not optimal, but it might be the best course if long-term sectarian and ethnic conflict is to be avoided. Remember, the first thing the new parliament will do is craft a permanent constitution. You want Sunni Arabs sitting at that table, or else.
Len on 11.19.04 @ 11:55 AM CST