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One Party Democracy in Iraq?

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said Thursday that if elections in Iraq couldn’t be held in 100% of the country, “So be it.” Because the no-go areas are in the Sunni triangle, it means a lot of Sunnis don’t get to vote, thus favoring the Shiites and the Kurds of the three major Iraqi factions. Shia Grand Ayatollah Sistani was a big help in settling the conflict in Najaf; so, it makes political sense for the US to pay him back by favoring the Shias in the election, although it’s not very democratic. But hey, even if the elections are not much more democratic than they were under Saddam, at least our guys are winning.

It’s not clear, however, whether the Shias are our guys. They are very close to the Shias in Iran, who seem bent to building an atomic bomb against America’s wishes. It seems that the short term benefit of holding an election (of any kind) in Iraq trumps the long term threat of nuclear destruction.

Rumsfeld was quickly upstaged by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, who said that elections would be held on time, while not contradicting Rumsfeld’s statement that they might not be held throughout the whole country. Secretary of State Powell was sent out to the Sunday talk shows to smooth the rough edges of Rumsfeld’s remarks.

But the truth is sometimes hard to hide. Today, according to the BBC, Jordan’s King Abdullah said, “It seems impossible to me to organize indisputable elections in the chaos we see today…. Only if the situation improved could an election be organized on schedule.” Maybe friends don’t let friends hold meaningless elections.

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