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Elections in Iraq...

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  • Elections in Iraq...

    No thread on this yet? Well, here we go....

    Here is something I cribbed from the Sound-On-Sound forum (which in turn was cribbed from somewhere else). It's a report from the New York Times of 4 September 1967. How much of this sounds familiar.....
    _________
    U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
    Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

    by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times
    (9/4/1967: p. 2)

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

    According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

    The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns
    reaching here.

    Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.

    A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

    The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.

    Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.


    Significance Not Diminished

    The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional
    step that has been taken.

    The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

    American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

    Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours
    less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

    Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.
    Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
    Bakunin

  • #2
    :-)))))

    Remember:

    Those who fail to learn from the errors of the past are doomed to repeat them!

    Kapri_Korn.

    Comment


    • #3
      I set up a thread on this topic - but it fell victim to the Gremlins and disappeared. It was based around a poll; the elections - victory for democracy - flawed, but a step forward, or - a total farce to legitimise the occupation. I tend to go for the second option - it's difficult, though - one of my colleagues in our union office, (one of the few people I know who supported the war), said to me on Monday; "What do you think about what happened in Iraq at the weekend?" "A positive step, overall", "Well, wasn't it all worthwhile, then?" - "Erm, no...."

      The point is - I'm not over-convinced by the Vietnam comparison, as I don't think the disparate forces that constitute the 'Iraqi resistance' have the type of popular support and legitimacy that the Vietcong enjoyed at the time. They are, on the whole, Ba'athist remnants and fundamentalists. They attack their own people and torture and kill trade unionists. (This isn't in itself reason to support the elections, though, as the most left wing of the two trade union federations in Iraq had a policy of boycotting the elections but also condemns the 'resistance').

      Anyway, complex issues. Mr Moorcock warns us against simple solutions, and I certainly can't see any in Iraq right now. It isn't as clear cut as Vietnam. I'm not sure many people will be convinced by the idea that Dubya really wants to see democracy in the Middle East - but maybe the elections can open up a political space in which the aspirations of ordinary people for the occupation to end peacefully and for some kind of normality to resume can be expressed. As Marx pointed out - everything contains the seed of its own contradiction, so is it entirely inconceivable that some good may come out of the situation?
      \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

      Comment


      • #4
        Mikey_C - Agreed. Direct evocations of the past are simplistic and Vietnam is different for all the reasons you point out (perhaps pre-war China is more pertinent....)

        think the problem the West has at the moment is they tend to see things in only simplistic, short term (like quarterly profit statements) and in compartmentalised contexts. Evil dictator deposed? Good! Elections held? Good! Opening of new markets to American manufacturing to increase US Shareholder values? Double Plus Good! Realistic long term prospects for democracy and freedom of the Iraqi people? Unknown!

        My fears for the future of the Iraqi people go something along these lines: 1. Continual violence and sabotage by the insurgents threatens American oil and construction interests.
        2. US provides increased levels of funding to fight terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
        3. Lack of effective governance leads to siphoning of funds.
        4. Continued hardship and perceived corruption as a result of (3) leads to increased support of terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
        5. Desperate Iraqi government implements harsher internal security measures.
        6. Harsh internal security measures leads to increased support for terrorists/insurgents/resistance. Militant fundamentalist Islam becomes unifying factor for terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
        7. Combination of internal corruption, perceived subservence to foreign (US) government, and harsh internal security measures (death squad democracy as per El Salvador?) creates an environment similiar to pre-revolution Iran.
        8. ????

        Of course this is very simplistic and unrealistic for any number of reasons. But then again so was the US "strategy"....
        Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
        Bakunin

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is an interesting blog from an Iraqi in Iraq. I don't know any more of his provenance than that but it does provide an interesting counterpoint to the traditional news sources out there.

          http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/
          Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
          Bakunin

          Comment


          • #6
            The interesting question is whether the new 'democratic government' will be able to reverse the privatisation imposed by warlord Bremer and cancel the contracts with corrupt US firms. Also, I understand that Iraq is now signed up for ten years bad medicine from the IMF.

            To see what the Bushites really think of democracy when it benefits the poor - look at their attitude to Venezuela and the CIA sponsored coup against the elected President. (FAILED! Anyone seen the documentary about it; 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'? Now there's a feel-good movie! :D )
            \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: :-)))))

              Originally posted by Kapri_Korn_Klyde
              Remember:

              Those who fail to learn from the errors of the past are doomed to repeat them!

              Kapri_Korn.
              This is of course a truism, the problem is "What lesons do we take from the past"
              The whole Iraq war was based on the leson of WWII; "Don't let an evil dictator build up power and ransack the world"
              Chamberlin was acting on the Leason of WWI "Don't get involved in brinksmanship" when he said "I belive this is peace in our time"

              The hardest part is finding out what leasons are most applicable to the situation at hand. I think we should be looking at the history is the British occupation of the area, though it's pretty clear this history also teaches some of the same leasons as Vietnam.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mikey_C
                Anyway, complex issues. Mr Moorcock warns us against simple solutions, and I certainly can't see any in Iraq right now.
                This is precisely why I'm keeping my yap shut on this issue. We aren't being given all the information by a long shot, so we can't really argue any legitimate, intelligent solutions. Iraq is a mess, that much is certain; it sits at the brink of civil war. There is simply NO simple solution. Thing is, we should have seen all of this going in... and simply not gone in.

                Originally posted by Mikey_C
                It isn't as clear cut as Vietnam.
                :lol: I agree with you, Mikey_C, but you have to admit that's a humorously ironic statement.
                "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
                --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

                Comment


                • #9
                  Whatever conclusion the evaluation allows in the end, one has to see that at least among the Shiites there was a considerable and detectable desire to go to the ballots ... and thereby state that they want to take matters into their hands! Which ultimately will mean also taking them out of the Americans' hands again, but also denying terrorists to act in their name.

                  Obviously the elections were an expression of will - and of insisting on getting a (Shiite) government that is legitmated by a majority vote instead of by car bombs (which would drive the foreigners out just the same). Nobody risks the dangers of getting blown up or gunned down just because of the kicks of voting. There must have been a strong desire. I must admit my admiration for every single voter who braved it in a more than questionable security situation.
                  Google ergo sum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    To see what the Bushites really think of democracy when it benefits the poor - look at their attitude to Venezuela and the CIA sponsored coup against the elected President. (FAILED! Anyone seen the documentary about it; 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'? Now there's a feel-good movie! :D )[/quote]
                    Before Venezuela look at the CIA & Nixon & the overthrow of Allende in Chile. Regardless of whether he was a Marxist or not he was the elected leader of the country. Look at the horrors of thr Pinochet regime. Why is the west/USA always ready to support the fascists/right wingers? When he was fighting Iran Saddam Hussein was our best buddie. My enemies enemy is my friend is a dangerous doctrine.
                    Arioch, aid me! Blood and souls for Arioch!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by silverhand
                      To see what the Bushites really think of democracy when it benefits the poor - look at their attitude to Venezuela and the CIA sponsored coup against the elected President. (FAILED! Anyone seen the documentary about it; 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'? Now there's a feel-good movie! :D )
                      Before Venezuela look at the CIA & Nixon & the overthrow of Allende in Chile. Regardless of whether he was a Marxist or not he was the elected leader of the country. Look at the horrors of thr Pinochet regime. Why is the west/USA always ready to support the fascists/right wingers? When he was fighting Iran Saddam Hussein was our best buddie. My enemies enemy is my friend is a dangerous doctrine.
                      The list of clandestine and overt US interventions to push through its interests is a lot longer than that.
                      Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Bay of Pigs (failed), Guatemala, Haiti, EL SALVADOR. Several African states as well. Plus a long list of dictators on their pay-role or at least as puppets: Papa Doc Duvalier, the Shah, Trujillo, at least 5 Bolivian "presidents", the Africans I can no longer count, because they changed sides so often (Siad Barre of Somalia for instance).
                      And who tapped the phones of UN officials before Gulf War II and even those of friendly nations' leaders (like that of Pres. Chirac)?

                      All fine, if you don't blue-eyedly expect the world to trust you as the "Leader if the Free World", right?
                      From the point of view of many countries it is absolutely clear who has wmd's and who can't be trusted.
                      I trust my very personal good American friends and any common man/woman on the street, but not their government, sorry.
                      And that's yet another reason for Iraqis to vote and determine their own fate!
                      Google ergo sum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To Kitsune

                        of course mine was a truism,

                        but I posted that to see if prompted any reaction...

                        ...you say that Bush acted on WWII's example?

                        Hard to believe...I would have believed it if action aganist Iraq had been initiated by his daddy....he was more the type, both chacrachterially and intellectually.

                        War aganist Iraq sprang for from a jumbled up mess of (not-so)hidden agendas and hysterical knee-jerk reaction to what bush and his cronies percieved as the 'terror menace' (of course Saddam had no ties whatsoever with terrorism but that's another stories).

                        Kapri_Korn.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Groakes
                          Mikey_C - Agreed. Direct evocations of the past are simplistic and Vietnam is different for all the reasons you point out (perhaps pre-war China is more pertinent....)

                          think the problem the West has at the moment is they tend to see things in only simplistic, short term (like quarterly profit statements) and in compartmentalised contexts. Evil dictator deposed? Good! Elections held? Good! Opening of new markets to American manufacturing to increase US Shareholder values? Double Plus Good! Realistic long term prospects for democracy and freedom of the Iraqi people? Unknown!

                          My fears for the future of the Iraqi people go something along these lines: 1. Continual violence and sabotage by the insurgents threatens American oil and construction interests.
                          2. US provides increased levels of funding to fight terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
                          3. Lack of effective governance leads to siphoning of funds.
                          4. Continued hardship and perceived corruption as a result of (3) leads to increased support of terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
                          5. Desperate Iraqi government implements harsher internal security measures.
                          6. Harsh internal security measures leads to increased support for terrorists/insurgents/resistance. Militant fundamentalist Islam becomes unifying factor for terrorists/insurgents/resistance.
                          7. Combination of internal corruption, perceived subservence to foreign (US) government, and harsh internal security measures (death squad democracy as per El Salvador?) creates an environment similiar to pre-revolution Iran.
                          8. ????

                          Of course this is very simplistic and unrealistic for any number of reasons. But then again so was the US "strategy"....
                          9. Profit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: To Kitsune

                            Originally posted by Kapri_Korn_Klyde
                            of course mine was a truism,

                            but I posted that to see if prompted any reaction...

                            ...you say that Bush acted on WWII's example?


                            Kapri_Korn.
                            No, I said that Bush may have taken the leson from WWII that you don't let dictators fester and become a problem later. The point is that history has conflicting leasons.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A few thoughts about this issue... I suspect I'm mostly like PWV--reserving my opinion until we can actually know what is happening, but nevertheless...

                              First and foremost, like L'E I resepct every person who was brave enough to vote. However, while I see the value of the gesture, I think it is entirely too early to say that the election represents the defeat of terrorism in Iraq. I wish that was the case, but I think acts of terrorism will increase while the provisional officials write the new constitution, and even more so when Iraq holds its elections for its permanent government.

                              I also think it is entirely too simplistic to frame the elections as a victory for "freedom," which many have tried to do relative to Iraq and much of the Middle East. Freedom and democracy aren't interchangable, either literally or ideally. If "freedom" really means "military occupation" or "overthrowing governments from the outside" I think the world is in trouble.

                              In response to that, don't give me the argument that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power. I agree. However, he was far from our most dangerous threat, and he was certainly presiding over a much more stable nation than many other dictators were at the time. If it truly is the US' job to overthrow dictators to spread democracy-- or peace through military action-- I think we started at the wrong place for the wrong reasons. I'm glad there were elections, but while many are back-slapping, other parts of the world continue to pose a greater threat to the US than Iraq ever did, and dictators are continuing to violate human rights more deeply than Saddam ever did.

                              I guess what I'm saying is the election was certainly some kind of victory, for which I am happy, but I think we should really contextualize it before we declare it to be the victory that was necessary.

                              Comment

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