We'll start our Sunday morning's coverage of the Iraq election (polls closed at 1400 GMT... or a few minutes ago as I write this at 0930 EST) with this roundup from the Beeb. While the Iraqi election commission spouts figures like 75% turnout and 90% of Shiite turnout, there seems no possible way to verify this. Anecdotal reports are heavy Shiite and Kurdish turnout, and light Sunni turnout.... maybe VERY light. Election day violence killed 22; probably less than a typical day in Iraq... less than I would have guessed-- I guess the shoot to kill curfew worked.
But as many gush about the success of the Bush Administration in pulling this off, the only figure that mattered as far as avoiding the coming civil war was the extent that Sunnis felt vindicated by this. Given that few voted, and according to this Zogby poll (thanks to Bruce the Veep), we see that Sunnis said they wouldn't vote (around 76-9%), Sunnis (80%) said the U.S. should leave immediately, most ominously joined by 63% of Shiites in that sentiments (only Kurds want the Americans to stay... or like us much at all... for obvious reasons).
In short, other than a somewhat lower level of violence than I expected, this fiasco pretty much went as I thought it would: Shiites get their majority, Kurds get their autonomy, Sunnis get their justification for not only the insurgency, but what will now be a stepped up civil war.
Too late to call a do-over. We now have to count on magnanimous Shiites to see their self-interest as foregoing the opportunity to screw the Sunnis in the formation of their new constitution and permanent "legitimate everywhere except Sunnis areas" government. This in what is ostensibly a revenge based society. (Our only hope-- and I mean this-- is that the Kurds will be more magnanimous in suggesting that the Sunnis get the kind of autonomy they themselves enjoy, and recognize that only getting autonomy respected by others will keep themselves from being tied into the coming bloody all-out civil war. Not likely, but at least I view it as more possible than the Shia giving up their thirst for pay-back.)
As Bruce suggests: not really analogous to recent American elections like 2000 or 2004... more like the election of 1860. (BTW... circumstances can prove me wrong... I hope they do-- as horrible as the carnage we have already brought to Iraq, look for a civil war there to kill millions, and very possibly draw Iran in formally if the instability spills over, with dire regional consequences.)
All I know is somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, a smile is creeping across Osama bin Laden's face, as we have moved his dream of Islamic-world-wide-jihad closer to reality than he ever could have dreamed... All hail "democracy".
You have to be joking... not only might your glass be half-empty, it appears from your "analysis" that it's totally empty.
Take a nap and then look at the results of the Iraqi elections again.
Posted by CadillaqJaq at January 30, 2005 11:59 AM
The votes aren't going to be counted for weeks. And the body count will take even longer to sort out.
What did I say: I hope I'm wrong. I'm well beyond wishing things to go to hell so Bush looks bad (a/k/a the John Kerry campaign strategy.) I don't care anymore... if this works out, give Dubya the Nobel Peace Prize... hell, petition the Pope so Dubya can get a sainthood for all I care. Dubya will then deserve it... obviously, God clearly would be looking out for him, because no earthly phenomena could explain HOW the Iraq thing worked out without a huge bloodbath... I will then willingly convert this blog into a poetry appreciation site and rarely, if ever, speak of Dubya or Iraq again...
But, if things transpire as I expect them to, i.e., within a few months, there is serious clamoring among Iraqis for us to get the f*** out, followed by an escalation to violence that most honest (meaning "foreign") journalists will regard as a "civil war", then I fully expect you back at this site to eat the crow you will then duly deserve.
Posted by the talking dog at January 30, 2005 12:19 PM
a.) there will inevitably be a rising call by the Iraqis for us to leave. This is totally expected. We will leave when we asked to.
b.) There will be no civil war. Even Robert Fisk said he was totally wrong last year when he predicted civil war. As much as he loathes the occupation and everything about the Coalition war effort, even he grants that a civil war is astronomically unlikely.
But I suppose you now, all of a sudden, know more than one of the Left's favorite war reporters.
Posted by Jeff B. at January 30, 2005 2:32 PM
Be still my heart... Robert Fisk is being quoted as an authoritative source by my friends on the right.
I "know" as much as you, or Mr. Fisk does, of what will happen.
When a large pile of flammable materials is assembled, and someone has pulled out a lighter and screamed about his intention of setting fire to said large pile, and those around expres their support, the odds of a conflagration are far greater than if there were none of the foregoing preconditions.
Maybe this will all work out, without a bloodbath... or maybe it won't. I call it as I see it. You're free to call it anyway you like.
You're not free to call a ball or strike before the ball has left the pitcher's hand, nor are you free to call the final score before the umpire has even said "play ball".
The fallout from this will take several months to play out, if not longer.
See you then.
Posted by the talking dog at January 30, 2005 2:49 PM
The 'enduring bases' being built in Iraq, six if you believe the Pentagon - 12 according to GlobalSecurity.org, hardly sound like a "we'll leave when asked to" scenario anymore than does $1 -2 billion dollars for an 'embassy complex'. What kind of an embassy do you get for that money? Sounds more like the admin centre for a protectorate to me.
Posted by euro-ron at January 30, 2005 3:37 PM
Hooray for the Iraqi people!
Posted by we at January 31, 2005 1:05 AM
Hear, hear, "we". The Iraqi people have shown a courage and fortitude that we can only admire in risking death just to vote.
Perhaps their faith in the democratic process will be rewarded.
Posted by the talking dog at January 31, 2005 10:20 AM
Perhaps Jeff B. is British. I've heard them say they'd leave Iraq if asked. I wonder what news these people with their rosy outlooks are seeing. I haven't seen much evidence to support positive thinking.
Posted by irisclara at January 31, 2005 2:30 PM
Many of the right wing blogs are proclaiming victory. Obnoxiously, too.
They're premature (but what's new?) The election, at this point, is merely symbolic, and the real outcome won't be known for years.
Ironically, the US presence is probably a big factor in keeping the country from civil war. People united against an occupier tend to ignore their internecine differences.
Posted by Dean at January 31, 2005 3:49 PM
I should point out that an Iraqi blogger called Raed in the Middle is reporting that in Iraq, it was widely known that there were rumors of threats to remove Iraqi's fod ration cards if they didn't get out and vote (in other words, vote or starve).
Charming, if true. Just charming.
Dean-- the U.S. presence is pretty much the only factor keeping the country from civil war; three groups that hate each other are all armed to the teeth, and one suspects chants of the Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi equivalents of "bring it on" are probably echoing about...
The ultimate question we will have to ask ourselves is if there will come a point when they decide to have their civil war anyway, whether we're there or not, and what we could do (short of nuclear strikes) to stop it.
The far, far less likely result is if an ACTUAL Iraqi democracy politely asked us to leave (so it could get on with its civil war, or live together in peace and harmony, or whatever).
Posted by the talking dog at January 31, 2005 4:11 PM