SIXTY PERCENT. The early returns from the Iraqi election are very promising. The Washington Post reports that turnout may have been around 60 percent, despite a boycott in the Sunni regions of the country. Here is a prescient piece from today's New York Times Magazine by Michael Ignatieff, who explains that the Iraqi people may get it right despite American arrogance and bumbling.
It's only one good day, but that's something, given how few there have been. It would be wonderful if, say, a year from now we can look back on this day as a turning point. The next big question: what will be the implications of the Sunnis' decision to disenfranchise themselves? Is there any real chance that Iraq can remain as one country. Should it?
Yes it was a good story with the blue fingers held up high. But I did think it was a little strange that in the last 24 hrs. we haven't heard much about the British transport that was apparently shot down with some sort of missle [hopefully not a Sam].
Obviously a terrible story for the UK and is it only a matter of time before it happens to our Air men?
"The early returns from the Iraqi election are very promising"-- Dan Kennedy, 1/30/05
"United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting."-- New York Times, 9/4/1967, (.pdf of original here)
And in 'Nam, not only was the voter turnout 83%, but you didn't need to vote in order to get food rations!
"It's only one good day, but that's something, given how few there have been"-- Dan Kennedy, 1/30/05
Hey, Dan: Election Day saw over 175 insurgent attacks throughout Iraq --the most in any day since the invasion. At least 44 Iraqis were killed and scores wounded. Additionally, weekend troop casualties made January the third deadliest month for occupation forces.
Good to see you're critical thinking skills are honed and ready for another 4 years of Bush incompetence...
~ Anthony G.
When DK of all people is insufficiently critical of the Bush administration, it says a lot about Anthony G.. Some people hear only what they want to..
Who said anything about being "insufficiently critical?" Our erstwhile host is being insufficiently factual by omitting from his assessment basic facts about what happened in Iraq on Sunday.
Facts are the stuff that honest journalism and critical thinking are made of. Accurate facts are especially important when reporting on proven liars like the Bushies.
Hey Dan: when you post an update on those very promising Iraqi elecetion returns, be sure to note that the record-breaking total of insurgent attacks on that one good day have been revised upwards to 260, and the the number of coalition troop deaths for the month to 125.
Perhaps even mention the 150,000 Iraqi Christians who protested yesterday because the never got ballots (they claim the Kurds deliberately kept the ballots from them).
Maybe mention that in Tikrit, Fallujia and other Sunni cities almost nobody voted (what would we call an Ohio election in which nobody voted in, say, Cinicinnati or Cleveland?)
Note to readers that, as Juan Cole reminds us, the Bushies originally opposed Sunday's "national" election. It only happened because Grand Ayatollah Sistani demanded it, rejecting outiright Bremer's plan for a later election after regional caucuses (BTW --Sistani couldn't vote on Sunday because he's a citizen of... Iran!)
Perhaps, one day, something good may emerge from the experience gained during this quasi-election exercise. But let's not kid ourselves: we didn't invade Iraq, trigger the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians and the deaths & injuries of over 5,000 coalition troops, ruin our traditional alliances, trash America's credibility, create a breeding ground for terrorists, and spend $200 billion for GOTV.
Nothing happened in Iraq on Sunday that was worth the lives and treasure that thus far have been pissed away -- not even one single American life was worth it.
Sunday's flawed election exercise amid growing violence underscores that tragic truth.
~ Anthony G.
I adamantly believe that rebuilding Iraq was an enormous mistake. And yes, there's absolutely no excuse for the loss of American lives over there.
But have people here ever heard of the term "sunk cost"? We can't undo the occupation and we can't repair the enormous loss of those deaths.
Therefore, I *wanted* to see a high turnout. If there was a 1% turnout and thousands of deaths, those soldiers' deaths would have been more in vain. I don't like Bush either and there is still a LONG way to go until our hands are clean. But I cannot see how anyone would think that a modest (if not inspiring) step towards democracy in Iraq is a bad thing. I've thought about this since Sunday... believe me, it's a good thing.
Remember all those unreasonable conservative a-holes in the 1990s who *always* complained about Clinton because they were so mired with political hate?
Guess what: commenters here are those a-holes now.
You're writing exactly what Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter want to talk about. You're a disgrace to us reasonable ones with anti-Bush opinions.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Bushies don't have a monopoly on hypocrisy.
Anonymous wrote: "Remember all those unreasonable conservative a-holes in the 1990s who *always* complained about Clinton because they were so mired with political hate?"Yes --they accused Clinton of a string of murders, rape and drug smuggling; accused Hillary of collaborating in the "murder" of Vince Foster; launched phony Whitewater, "travelgate" and "troopergate" hearings costing tens of millions of dollars; called Janet Reno "the buthcer of Waco" when David Koresh murdered federal agents and immolated women & children in his cult compound; orchestrated a sham impeachment for lying about consensual sex...
All this and more while Clinton led America into the greatest period of propserity and security in our history.
George Bush, on the other hand, led America into a recession, posted the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover, failed to stop the 9/11 terrorist attacks, lied about what he knew before the attacks, squandered the Clinton surplus, wracked-up the largest federal deficit and trade deficit in US history, allowed millions of Americans to lose heath insurance and slip into poverty, lied about Saddam's WMDs and al Qaeda connections, trashed our global alliances, and invaded Iraq without sufficient troops, equipment, planning or an exit strategy.
Its precisely because they had no legitimate basis for their Clinton-hating that the conservative a-holes are a-holes. Clinton got results --some of the best in US history. They slandered him entirely out of political & ideological animus.
Bush critics are not flogging concocted scandals; by any objective measure of results, Bush is a miserable failure --by economic results, job creation results, national security results, you name it.
By any standard, Bush's lies about Iraq, the cost of his Medicare drug benefit and what he knew in advance about 9/11 are serious, consequential and damaging to America --not the kind of drivel for which the wing-nuts impeached Clinton.
I, too, would prefer see a huge turnout in Iraq with few deaths to no turnout and high casualties. But don't kid yourself about what happened on Sunday on how we got there: GOTV dies not in any way un-shit the Iraq bed, does not justify the cost of shitting the bed and does not absolve the people who shit the bed. Nor does it excuse journalists from reporting all the facts.
~ Anthony G.
Right on, Anon 12:07. I've been fed up with the right-wing blather about "look at all them lefties who want this election to fail". I have seen very little of that, and I figured it was a right-wing strawman. From what I see in some of these comments, maybe they're right?
I should hope not.
Anthony G. is spot-on. Bush and his right wing supporters simply don't care how many innocent Iraqis or American troops die over there or how much the whole mess costs. They just want to give Bush and the Republicans political cover. It's a shame that even liberal commentators like Mr. Kennedy aren't giving the full story of what's really going on in Iraq.
Some good food for thought from the posters here, Dan. As a media critic, it would be worthwhile for you to analyze why information about the violence and loss of life in Iraq are ignored in a kind of political groupthink to cheer the election. I read a great analysis in the book "Soundbyte Society" in which the author examines the media's inability to look at trends or slow-moving processes. This seems to be in effect here where news reports focus only on voter turnout, but not all the flubs, deaths and capitulating to the Shiites that preceded it.
Update on those VERY PROMISING Iraqi elections for anyone with an attention span longer than 60 seconds:
Sistani Tsunami --initial returns show Sistani's Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are crushing US-backed Allawi's candidate list. That's right --a pro-Iran Islamic Revolution party is poised to dominate Iraq's "government" just as Iran is on the brink of developing its own nukes.
And we are paying billions of dollars to train their military!
Yes, the election is looking MORE PROMISING by the day...
~ Anthony G.
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