Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Iraq elections: Good news for Iraq and US

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2009

I’ve been waiting to post about this until the first official results were released today. Iraq has completed its first local elections since 2005. The elections were free of violence and certified free and fair by international observers. Security for the elections was handled entirely by the Iraqis themselves, a major accomplishment.

The big news is that of the 14 provinces at stake, more than half resulted in victory for the Dawa party of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. This represents a major political shift. al-Maliki had been a compromise choice for Prime Minister from a small Shiite party. The results will be a major boost to his power and credibility. The big losers were the two other Shiite parties which are widely seen as being under Iranian influence. Sunni parties did well in other provinces, adding legitimacy to the government among Sunnis that it lacked when Sunnis boycotted the elections in 2005. Overall, secular and nationalist parties did well; religious parties and those seen as dominated by foreign powers did poorly. 

All of this is very good for the US.  For the last five years, Iraq has been the centerpiece of our foreign policy, and arguably of our politics here at home too. President Bush told Americans that the goal of our occupation was to develop Iraq into a stable democracy that would become an example for the rest of the Middle East. For this he was roundly scorned and mocked by those who said such a goal was impossible. Iraq could never fucntion as a Western-style democracy, they said. Shiites and Sunnis could never cooperate, they said. The only way to keep them from killing each other is to partition the country, said then-Senator, now-Vice President Joe Biden. All agreed that Bush was an idiot.

So who turned out to be right? Well, it is still too early to say whether Iraq will become stable. But there is no question that Iraq has become a real democracy of the kind that was considered impossible in the Arab world. And that fact has not been lost on the authoritarian Arab regimes and their people, nor on the leaders of Iran, whose bid to dominate Iraq has, for the moment, failed, and who now have an example on their borders that must seem attractive to the massive youth population of Iran.

If you ask me, perhaps the biggest winner of all in this Iraqi election is George W. Bush. Oh, wait, except for, you know, the people of Iraq.

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7 Responses to “Iraq elections: Good news for Iraq and US”

  1. sanityinjection said

    And the WashPost agrees!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/03/AR2009020303284.html?nav=rss_opinions

  2. Jason said

    Great points. Still no “offical” word from Washington…

    I see Bush giving an exclusive soon, and you can bet this will be one of the topics.

    Good news all they way around.

  3. […] The Iraqi elections were “most boring event in Iraq since the war” according to this blogger. Nouri al-Maliki has emerged as the winner of the provincial elections. Improved security and peaceful elections have strengthened the Prime Minister’s popularity. Is this the first sign of Iraq becoming a true democracy? Good news for Iraq but is the real winner the US? […]

  4. Joe said

    Where the collective will of a people is mushroomed together with pride and a sense of positive direction, this is the end result…..The Iraqi people have proven that those external fingers in a pie can really soil the dish!

    I have always said that George W Bush’s legacy will come back to prove many wrong. Just because the majority wrongfully construed his intentions, this election despite the shoe throwing farewell gift serves to silence those naive critics.In any case, how many of you remember the bible when the majority shouted CRUCIFY HIM & the THUG was let loose? Is it about time to take stock of PRESIDENT BUSH’S VISION, the outcome playing & REMIND ourselves how silly we can get due to mob psychology?

    It is certainly pleasing to see Iraqi’s take control of their own security, marshal in an orderly way to the polling booths, make informed choices and have credible results announced without a twitch.Even more graceful is the acceptance from the other parties in the poll regarding the outcome of a disciplined and issue oriented poll.

    Now where does that leave the fire spitting Iranian rules as elections come along? Will Iraq serve as a pillar of hope for the young Irannian’s craving to unclench their fist? TIK TOK…TIK TOK…TIK TOK…TIME WILL TELL!!

  5. sanityinjection said

    Really good quote from from one of the losing parties in the Iraqi elections:

    “We did not reach our goals but this is part of democracy.”

    Exactly. Inherent to the concept of democracy is that you don’t resort to violence or secession every time you lose an election. You suck it up and set your sights on the next one. The fact that at least one of the major Iraqi parties gets this underscores the remarkable achievement of this election.

    Source – Rocky Mountain News: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2009/feb/07/iraqs-mandate-for-stability/

  6. sanityinjection said

    Iraq is actually starting to sound like a democracy. Consider the following recent quotes from the complete opposite ends of the Iraqi political spectrum:

    “I want to tell those who won seats in the provincial elections that they are now shouldering great and big responsibilities. So, fear God and place the interests of your country ahead of your personal or party interests.” – Sunni cleric Anas al-Issawi

    “Forget their differences and direct all their efforts to serve the people. I call upon all the candidates who got seats on the provincial councils to do their best to solve the problems of the Iraqis rather than taking care of their personal ambitions.” – Sadrist Shiite cleric Sabah al-Obeidi

    It’s not that one should necessarily believe these lofty sentiments. But the fact that they are being expressed at all is a sign that Iraqi politicians are starting to do what politicians in democracies do – listen to what the electorate is saying and identify with it. The consensus is that Iraqi voters sent a message that they want a unified state with both Sunnis and Shiites participating in a secular government. So that’s the line these politicians are now taking, despite being religious leaders themselves. Why is that important? Because they wouldn’t do it unless they thought it would improve their standing – and that means an acceptance of the idea that power derives from the consent of the governed. I would argue there is no more fundamental sign of democracy taking root than that.

  7. […] Security for the elections was handled entirely by the Iraqis themselves, a major accomplishment. Iraq elections: Good news for Iraq and US Sanity Injection Facts are stubborn […]

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