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.