I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a "political earthquake" and "a historical first step" for Iraq. It is an event of the utmost importance, for Iraq, the Middle East, and the world. All the boosterism has a kernel of truth to it, of course. Iraqis hadn't been able to choose their leaders at all in recent decades, even by some strange process where they chose unknown leaders. But this process is not a model for anything, and would not willingly be imitated by anyone else in the region. The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic, as were the 2002 elections in Bahrain and Pakistan.
Notice that he doesn’t mention the 2004 US elections.
Moreover, as Swopa rightly reminds us all, the Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections of this sort. First they were going to turn Iraq over to Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group.
Cole notes that campaigning was carried on in secret, and most folks didn’t have a clue as to who they were voting for, with the results:
This thing was more like a referendum than an election. It was a referendum on which major party list associated with which major leader would lead parliament.
And here I thought everything was just peachy. Oh, well.
Your basic update, Russian style
Former Soviet big noise and head dude, Mikhail Gorbachev has called the elections in Iraq "fake."
Think about it: here's a guy who is no doubt an expert on fake elections, so if he says the Iraqi elections were fake, I for one believe it.