Thursday, January 20, 2005

Predictions for Iraqi elections

This week's Homespun Bloggers Symposium question is:
What are your predictions for the elections in Iraq? Will there be violence? What will the government look like? Will it be legitimate, liberal, and capable of accomplishing anything? And what effect will the election have on the U.S.?
Here is Carpe Bonum's response.

There will continue to be more bombings and other violence, including on election day itself. This will be reported prominently by the media. For example: Series of Bombings Rock Baghdad, Killing at Least 12.

The clamor to delay the elections will grow. Nevertheless, preparations will continue steadily. Where this is reported at all, the spin will be on how difficult it all is, as in this gem from the New York Times:
From training as many as 200,000 poll workers to tabulating the choices of about 14 million eligible voters, the logistical challenges of organizing fair elections in an unstable country that has not voted freely since the 1950's have been lost in the wash of violence and political strife. Election workers are days away from putting this gigantic machine to the test in one of the most forbidding challenges to democratic ingenuity.
Wow. Sounds hard.

Go to this post on Iraq the Model and click through to see pictures of campaign posters plastered around Baghdad. Definitely click image number one in which you can see a couple of posters where the candidate is using an American flag as a symbol! These will never, ever be printed by mainstream media.

Some areas actually will not vote due to instability. This will be reported as the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

Iraqis will be enthusiastic about voting but resigned to the risk inherent in doing so. As in Afganistan, many Iraqis will prepare themselves for death before they go to the polls. This bravery will not be reported.

There will be some voting problems: missing ballot boxes, people not able to vote, fraud (sound familiar?). This will be reported as the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

Most seats in the National Assembly and local provincial councils will in fact be filled. But this will be reported as the result of a tainted, American-run election. Media elites will wonder aloud if the results are legitimate.

The Assembly and councils will be sworn-in and seated, a landmark event in Arab history. People whose only source of news is the mainstream media will barely notice.

The Assembly will elect Allawi President and set to work on a constitution. It will be several years before we know what kind of government will emerge. Every setback, miscue and scandal will be reported as, you guessed it, the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

In the US, the effect will be subtle. Those of us who get our news despite the mainstream media (not from the mainstream media) will see and be gratified by the fitful progress of democracy in Iraq. And the media's failure to report important facts about democracy in Iraq will further erode its credibility.

Militarily, there will be little near term effect in terms of reducing troop count in theater. Any improvements in security or handovers of responsibility to Iraqi units will be offset by the need to build reserves for action against Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia. (But that's another post.)

Be sure to read the other responses from Therapy Sessions, Dagney's Rant, Bunker Mulligan and Considerettes.