Sanity Injection

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

Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Missing the point of Iraq election

Posted by sanityinjection on March 11, 2010

The diplomatic world awaits with baited breath today the announcement of the results of Iraq’s election. Columnists are in a tizzy over what outcome would be best for Iraq or for Western interests.

But all the speculation is missing the essential point: Nobody knows who is going to win. That in itself is the key victory for democracy – a hotly contested election whose outcome is not a foregone conclusion. What other Arab country can boast of this? Lebanon, perhaps, no other. And it’s a far cry from the days when Saddam Hussein used to be “re-elected” with 98% of the vote. And don’t think that the significance of this is lost on Iraqis themselves. With all the hardships they have faced over the last seven years, this at least is one tangible benefit: proof that the destiny of their country lies in their own hands.

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Iraqi election snapshots: Baghdad

Posted by sanityinjection on March 9, 2010

I recommend to you this piece in the New York Times by veteran Iraq journalist Bartle Bull. Mr. Bull’s interviews suggest that there is – at least in Baghdad – a movement in this election away from sectarianism. If that’s true, it’s the most positive sign yet of a potentially stable and peaceful future for Iraq.

One of the things that seems to stand out in the interviews is the Baghdadis’ sense of pride in their democratic elections as putting them far ahead of their Arab brethren or even their Iranian neighbors. Of course, Iraqis have long viewed themselves as being more educated and modern than other Arabs. But it bodes well if Baghdadis’ attitudes gradually spread across the rest of the country.

I’m not sure why this piece was buried by the Times in their Op-Ed section, unless it simply wasn’t anti-American enough to qualify as “news”.

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Spanish judge exposes hypocrisy of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez

Posted by sanityinjection on March 1, 2010

Honestly, sometimes I think I could write a whole blog just about Venezuela’s strutting thug of a caudillo, Hugo Chavez. I’m sure others have done just that. Whether it’s trying to rule Honduras through one of his bullyboy stooges or declaring that the United States somehow deliberately engineered the Haiti earthquake as a pretext to take over that country, Chavez is a headline news writer’s dream – always good for some copy.

 For now, let me just comment on one aspect of Chavez’ foreign policy. As even the most casual follower of international issues knows, Chavez casts himself as the chief opponent of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Everything in Latin America is the fault of US imperialism, according to Chavez. Chavez reserves particular spite for neighboring US ally Colombia. Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have deteriorated drastically since Chavez gained power. Chavez frequently accuses the US of planning to invade Venezuela with Colombian help to overthrow him, while at the same time denying accusations that Chavez’ Venezuelan military and intelligence services have provided aid to the FARC rebels in Colombia.

In fact, it is Chavez, and not the United States or Colombia, who is actively engaged in attacking other nations by funding and training rebels and terrorists. Support for this comes from a judge in faraway Spain, whose recent indictment accuses Chavez’ government of not only harboring terrorists from Spain’s ETA and Colombia’s FARC, but actually presiding over explosives training involving both groups.

Of course, allegations of this type have been coming from the US and Colombia for a while now, but this comes from an essentially neutral source (personal friction between the Spanish King and Chavez notwithstanding.) It will be much harder for Chavez to brush this off as US propaganda, though it is unlikely to have any direct consequences.

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has members from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile as well as the US, has issued this 150-page report detailing the systematic way in which Chavez has undermined democracy, freedom, and human rights in his country. Again, not new information, but when you put it all together in one place it’s a staggering condemnation. The Commission, of course, like its parent group the Organization of American States, is toothless, but in Chavez’ world, sometimes propaganda counts for a lot. It is getting harder and harder for Chavez to present himself and his government as victims when the evidence is mounting that they are the victimizers.

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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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Once again, Venezuela’s Chavez shows contempt for democracy

Posted by sanityinjection on December 19, 2008

The issue this time is that Chavez is term-limited from running for re-election. Chavez and his supporters want to have a voter referendum to change the law to allow him to run again.

The reason this is inherently anti-democratic has nothing to do with whether term limits are a good or bad idea. Rather, it is the violation of the principle that major changes aren’t supposed to apply to incumbents for good or for ill.

For example, when the US Constitution was changed to limit US Presidents to two terms, the change specifically did not apply to FDR, the sitting President. When Congress votes itself a pay raise, the pay raise never applies to the sitting Congress, but only to the one that will take office after an election.

Thus, there’s nothing wrong with having a referendum on removing term limits from the Presidency. The problem is that Chavez should be excluded from the change, so that the vote is a vote on term limits generally, not a vote for or against Chavez, which is exactly what this referendum will be. And Venezuelans are well aware in their socialist mob state what the consequences of an anti-Chavez vote can be.

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From a crackpot comes a warning

Posted by sanityinjection on October 31, 2008

Far-left wing nut author Erica Jong is in hysterics over the chance that Obama might not win. As reported by the New York Observer,

Jong says her fear that Obama might lose the election has developed into an “obsession. A paralyzing terror. An anxious fever that keeps you awake at night.”….”Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can’t cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces her to a bundle of nerves. My back is also suffering from spasms, so much so that I had to see an acupuncturist and get prescriptions for Valium.”…”If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it’s not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets.”

Of course, it’s easy to dismiss such ravings. But we shouldn’t, because Jong, who has the political intelligence of a marmoset, is merely parroting things she has been hearing from her other friends on the Left. Even in the ranting of a psychopath, there can be a grain of truth, and here it is: Jong is warning us that the Obama campaign will not play by the rules if they lose.

Of course, by this I do not mean a civil war or a race war or anything as sensationalist as all that. Anyone who flogs such canards is disgracefully irresponsible. What I mean is this: In a democratic society, we all accept the principle that if you lose the vote, you accept it, congratulate your opponent, and retire to fight another day. If Obama is elected President, you can be sure that’s what the Republicans will do. (Notice that for all her paranoid view of Republicans as evil fascists, Jong is not losing sleep because she thinks *Republicans* will start the civil war if Obama *wins*.)

But Jong is only one of several voices on the left hinting at the fact that if Obama loses, his campaign will not accept it. They believe with a Messianic fervor that the Presidency is their destiny and their right, and that only racism could possibly take it away. Of course, Obama himself will take the high road, but his campaign will demand recounts in every state and his supporters will riot in the streets. Like a child who runs away with the ball when the game doesn’t go their way, they will paralyze our country until our fear of chaos and instability leads us to give in to their demands. Or so they believe.

I know there are many good and decent Obama supporters who will say this is total nonsense. And I hope for all our sakes that they are right and I am wrong. But I am not convinced that they know who their political bedfellows really are.

http://www.observer.com/2008/politics/erica-jong-tells-italians-obama-loss-will-spark-second-american-civil-war-blood-will-r

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