Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Iraqi elections

Well, what are your thoughts? I'm actually more optimistic than I was a couple of months ago. Of course there are a large number of people who consider the insurgents to be doing something good, which underlines our image problem in general moreso than our conduct in this particular war, I'd say. Although our conduct in this war has dramatically exacerbated our image problem. But the fact that the Sunnis are saying that they want to participate in the writing of the constitution (even if they have to continue to denounce the elections to save face) indicates to me that there is a groundswell of desire to see this process through. Plus, Sistani and his guys have indicated that, whatever the elections show, the Sunnis have to have some role in the drafting of the consitution. And the displeasure of the Kurds that seemed about to boil over a few months ago has abated. Clearly there will be many problems writing the constitution but everyone seems to recognize that they need to be involved in that process, and isn't that the idea?


Blogger Tally Ho said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Vergasy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Vergasy said...

3 points

1. not "insurgents," terrorists
2. not "large number," handful
3. why do you hate freedom?

2:00 PM  
Blogger Ger said...

Allan, you've got to be kidding me, right? Do you think the Sunnis have sat back and made this exclusively legal decision that the election is illegitimate based on international law? I can understand that reason as your rationale for considering the elections illegitimate, but I'm going to hazard a guess that the Sunnis had a more practical and urgent basis in mind when denouncing them: maximize their political power, as you went on to say.

I think it's definitely possible, perhaps even likely that a Sunni minority will try to overthrow a Shia-dominated government. But I wouldn't say it's a foregone conclusion as you seem to imply. And I'm not sure that any more could reasonably be expected at this point.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Tally Ho said...

My bad. I mixed up the majority. In the end I don't think it changes much. And yes, I do think that international law is at issue here. The invasion and the occupation are illegal. Therefore the election run by the invaders and occupiers is probably something shy of legal. I would rewrite it like this:

I have to disagree abou the Sunnis' actions. The Sunnis aren't boycotting the elections to save face. They're boycotting the elections because they're illegitimate. I think their illegitimate in two ways: 1) They're predicated on the sovereignty established by an invasion that was a clear violation of international law (it certainly was not an invasion of self-defense) 2) The procedures by which the elections have been organized have not been fair by democratic standards, the supposed value of the US pressence. 3) They can't win the elections, so why lend them legitimacy by participating.

Furthermore, it would have been shocking if Sunnis had decided not to participate in the writing of the constitution. They would be foolish to deny themselves a hand in shaping the institutions that are going to shape the Iraqi political process.

By boycotting then writing they get the best (avaiable) option. Weaken legitimacy of the government that is denying the exercise of majoritarian democracy yet make the illegitimate government as favorable to you as possible.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Beer Party Beach said...

Roethlisburger...the U.N. Security Council has in fact unanimously legitimized the coalition's occupation of Iraq, so in terms of interational law, our presence there is actually legal. The U.N. even had an office in Bahgdad before the insurgents blew it up. (they're subsequently monitoring the election from Jordan. Perfect.) As for the elections, I think the they're just prelude to a greater problem, which is the drafting of a constitution this coming fall. As it stands now, if 3 of the 18 provinces veto the constitution, it is considered illegit, and there are 4 provinces that are overwhelmingly Sunni. (not to mention the Kurdish provinces, which are definitely going to be fiercely independent and scoff at any Shiite-dominated agenda.) So I guess the real question is; How salient and vitriolic are these ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq? Are they bad enough to scuttle this whole democratization process? I mean Iraq was more or less cobbled together by the British post-Ottomon empire to serve their own oil interests, so is there really any hope (or incentive) for these disparate groups to make common cause?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Tally Ho said...

BPB I agree, I think, with some of the latter parts of your statement, but with regard to the UN security council approval of the occupation making the invasion and occupation legal, I'm not so sure. I'm not sure that the UN condoning is sufficient for legalisty. Also, there were incentives for rebuilding that may have factored into the vote by the UN brining in a whole other level where legitimacy can be questioned. In terms of the temporal aspects, I'm not sure that condoning the occupation can confer any legitmacy on the invasion since it was prior and necessary for the occupation.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Vergasy said...

John, what's your source for the legality statement? I too am curious about this.

2:47 PM  

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