Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The promise of Iraqi democracy

In late 2002, Saddam held an "election" in Iraq, in which he was the only candidate. Unsurprisingly, he won 100% of the vote.

Today, Iraq is heading for another set of elections. Unfortunately, the interim regime have stiched up a deal whereby their component parties will not actually contest the election, but instead present a unified slate of candidates. Coupled with extremely tight ballot access regulations (the deposit is a year's wages) and the regime's power to disqualify any party by calling them terrorists, the result may very well look like Saddam's "election": a "choice" with only one option.

But what's really scary is that the US is endorsing this atrocity. Allowing the Iraqis real electoral choice runs the risk that they'd choose wrong, and vote for a government that was hostile to the United States. And as we all know, that's not what democracy is all about. And so Iraq sinks further into the mire of despotism, and the noble aims appealed to as cover by the war's supporters grow even more tarnished...

The Americans must be held to their promise, and Iraq must get real elections and a real democracy. That's the only way any good at all can be salvaged from this clusterfuck. Because if the US goes ahead and allows the Allawi regime to run a Saddam-style, up/down referendum on their rule, then they will simply have replaced one undemocratic, torturing regime with another. And I doubt that even the "liberal hawk" faction could countenance the deaths of at least 16,000 civilians for that.