Good Question

Amidst an orgy of self-righteousness and defensiveness, Coy Andy does manage to blurt out a worthwhile question:

How do we tell if the Iraqi elections are a success? That they happen at all? Surely we should have a higher standard than that. Here are my criteria: over 50 percent turnout among the Shia and Kurds, and over 30 percent turnout for the Sunnis. No massive disruption of voting places; no theft of ballots. Fewer than 500 murdered. Any other suggestions for relevant criteria? Am I asking too much? I’m just thinking out loud. But it makes sense to have some guidelines before Sunday so we don’t just fit what happens to our pre-existing hopes or rationalizations.

How do we determine if they were a success? First, I would argue that we not turn the perception of success into a binary construct, in that they are either a success or a failure. I would argue that they happen at all would be a small success in and of itself.

Certainly, the levels of violence are going to be weighed into the equation, but I suggest not to heavily. Deaths associated with the election will be a short-term loss (and I am not casually dismissing human lives- but looking at the big picture), and what should be considered more important are the perceptions of legitimacy regarding the outcome of the election.

If a majority of the Kurds and the Shia population vote, and the results are accepted as legitimate, I think it would be a clear-cut success. No outcome is going to please the American left and the Sunni population, so I am not even going to weigh their concerns. What really matters are they perceptions of legitimacy for those who particpated in good faith. And as always, when good faith and intellectual honesty are concerned, we can rule out the partisan left and the NY Times.

Your thoughts?

15 replies
  1. 1
    M. Scott Eiland says:

    I’d view the Sunnis boycotting the elections as equivalent to if the whites in South Africa had boycotted the first post-apartheid elections. In other words, I’m not going to weep if they end up getting screwed as a result of their stubbornness–they’ve been holding the whip hand for a long time, and they need to deal with the fact that they don’t any more.

  2. 2
    M. Scott Eiland says:

    I see a Catch-22 coming if the left decides to parrot something similar to Sullivan’s conditions. If ballots are stolen–even if the number stolen is trivial compared to the total–the cry of “illegitimate” (well rehearsed after Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004) will rise shrilly from the usual suspects. If things go perfectly and no ballots at all are stolen, the cry will be “isn’t it terrible that the Bushitler Administration is more concerned with running clean elections in Iraq than in Ohio?”

    I’m preparing appropriate mockery for both possibilities when they happen.

  3. 3
    CadillaqJaq says:

    John posted in part: “If a majority of the Kurds and the Shia population vote, and the results are accepted as legitimate, I think it would be a clear-cut success. No outcome is going to please the American left and the Sunni population…”

    That’s my biggest concern: not how many voted or were slaughtered while attempting to vote, but what will be ignored with the avalanche of cries and wailing from the anti-Bush/anti-war idiots that it wasn’t LEGITIMATE.

  4. 4
    Kimmitt says:

    The measure of success is whether or not the vast majority of the people with guns in Iraq decide to settle their differences in Parliament with speeches instead of on the streets with IEDs.

    Another measure of success would be if the Administration successfully uses them as cover to get us out of Iraq so that we can stop throwing good money (and lives) after bad.

  5. 5
    Bob says:

    I hope as many Iraqis as possible vote, and I believe that it would be a mistake for the Sunnis to boycott the voting. A mistake generally, but I can certainly understand discretion on pain of death.

    As bad as Saddam has been, and he was at his worst when he was our bad boy in the eighties up to the day he invaded Kuwait, he was no threat to the US when we invaded Iraq. This was not a war to protect American people or soil, it was a war to extend American oil interests (That’s the rumor why Cheney et al have been fighting to keep the notes of the energy task force secret; they were planning on seizing the Iraqi oilfields back in 2001). There are more despicable leaders around the world, but they are either our “friends” or are not sitting on huge oil reserves. So while we were waging a war in Iraq which has depleted our military, our national treasury, our international good will, North Korea has been actually making nuclear bombs (although some might suggest that North Korea is on a long leash in order to sell the newest version of the Star Wars defense). Genocide in Africa. But apparently no oil in Darfur. Why doesn’t America lift a finger to help the freedom fighters in Chechnya? Baku.

    Iraq was created by the Europeans, and once the central authoritarian control (recently by the Baathists, now by our military occupation) is removed, there is the ugly potential of a continuing civil war and a fracturing of the country, not unlike the division of Yugoslavia. Shia to the south, Kurds to the north, Sunni in the middle. This will further strengthen Iran, any autonomy the Kurds gain will be a threat to Turkey.

    It would be nice for the Shia majority to assume power, say, “thank you America, now go home,” but they just do not have the military/police power to stop the continuing rebellion. They need American troops to control the country.

    Another five years?

  6. 6
    George Saras says:

    Bob says, among other idiotic things, that the Iraq war was “…a war to extend American oil interests…” Apparently Bob isn’t on the DNC’s mailing list; even such liberals as Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean no longer make that discreditied argument. I think the comments I made a few weeks ago to Bob still apply.

    Bob, your verbosity is exceeded only by your total stupidity. Let me hasten to add that I certainly don’t mind you writing so much, consuming all those countless pixels, but I assume you don’t mind if I ignore what you have written. As sombody observed, “What Bob lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in ignorance.” To which I would add, “He does so at interminable length!”

    Bob, if only you’d use your brains a little more you could at least call yourself, with some measure of honesty, a half-wit. I guess I’d like to see things from your warped point of view, but I seriously doubt that I could get my head that far up your ass. As I scanned the comments you have posted in this thread, I was left wondering if you are always this asinine, or were you making a special effort today?

    In short, my question to you is: Don’t you realize that there are enough people to hate in the world already, without your putting in so much effort to give us another?

  7. 7
    Bob says:

    George, the only criticism of my post that you offer is that Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean have an opinion different from me. The rest is bilge. By the way, McAuliffe isn’t liberal, he’s moderate. Maybe you can’t tell that from your foxhole.

    George, maybe you follow the spokespeople on Right absolutely, but I make up my own mind.

    If not oil, then what? It wasn’t democracy going in. It was weapons of mass destruction, based on intelligence that the Administration phonied up. Then it was Saddam is an evil man, but the evil man is captured, so now it’s democracy.

    The Republican Party serves the interests of the wealthy class of Americans, wherever their investments take our army.

    Funny, though, that you have no thoughts about the elections. Drudge didn’t post what you should think yet?

  8. 8
    Kimmitt says:

    Never ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to incompetence. I honestly think the war was because of Bush’s personal obsession with Hussein, which was then used to gin up Bush’s approval ratings by making him a “war President.” It’s a weird dynamic — because the meme exists that the Republicans are better at national security, the worse Bush makes our security situation, the more likely it is that he and his will get elected. I don’t think that even Bush is so foul that he would deliberately attempt to take advantage of this, but I do think that it has rebounded to his advantage.

  9. 9
    George Saras says:

    Bob, the main reason that I don’t bother addressing each and ever point that you bring up is very simple, and can be illustrated by reference to your nonsensical comment above relative to why we went into Iraq…you state in part, “It was weapons of mass destruction, based on intelligence that the Administration phonied up..” Virtually every intelligence agency of virtually every country with such a service held those same assessments of Iraq’s possession of WMD’s. Former President Clinton has acknowledged such.

    Face it, Bob. You are an idiot whose views of the world and your place in it have been shaped by too much time spent with the denizens of such places as Democra Underground and The Nation.

  10. 10

    “I honestly think the war was because of Bush’s personal obsession with Hussein, which was then used to gin up Bush’s approval ratings by making him a “war President.””

    President Bush was a “war president” over a year before the invasion of Iraq. You might want to look back at what happened on 9-11-2001 and what happened in Afghanistan during October/November 2001.

  11. 11
    Bob says:

    Refresh me, George.

    First off, it was our intelligence service that was in Iraq. The UN did not say there was any imminent threat. Their inspectors didn’t want the Americans to invade. The UN didn’t want us to invade.

    Who else? Israel? Well, they’ve got geopolitical reasons to see all their enemies wiped out, and better if the chump Americans do it for them. Britain? As I recall, almost the whole world was against us invading Iraq, and with the exception of Tony Blair’s ludicrous claim that Iraq had rockets that could hit London in forty-five minutes (another really stupid lie), I don’t remember anyone else in mortal fear of Saddam’s scientists of death.

    What did French intelligence say? What did the Germans say?

    And, yes, it was phonied up evidence. Remember the Valerie Plame affair? One of these years the Justice Department might actually wrap up that investigation, eh? I’m sure Alberto will have the thumbscrews out the day after he’s sworn in. Remember yellowcake uranium from Niger? A pack of lies. Remember the anodyzed aluminum tubes? Bullshit. And they knew it at the time. Remember the mobile bioterror labs? Whatever happened to them anyway? I think one of them sells sandwiches outside of where I work.

    George, I’m glad I get some adrenalin pumping through your carcass, but you’d be better served to actually know what the fuck you are talking about before drooling in public.

  12. 12
    cj says:

    I’m beginning to think the election will be “legitimate” if it moves off the front page of the newspapers.

  13. 13
    George Saras says:

    Bob, you are obviously a very, very troubled person. In all seriousness, I strongly urge that you seek help. You are totally out of control, mixing up facts with fiction, distorting what little real information that comes into your sphere of knowledge and, in general, acting like the fucking asshole that you most likely have become in your senility. ALL of the intelligence services of the countries you note above believed that Iraq possessed WMD. That is an incontrovertible fact. And Bush NEVER said that Saddam was an “imminent” threat. And the list goes om and on and on, you lying and distorting asshole.

    Notwithstanding the above, Luv ‘ya Babe.

  14. 14

    Bob, your little digression is pretty amusing, no less so because so many of your “facts” aren’t. Iraq wasn’t called an “imminent” threat by President Bush. You are misrepresenting what both he and Tony Blair actually said.

    As another example, Wilson’s own report actually backs up the yellowcake / Niger story. You really need to work on inventing less.

  15. 15
    Kimmitt says:

    As another example, Wilson’s own report actually backs up the yellowcake / Niger story.

    You’re going to have to give a cite on that one.

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