Why Do Iowans Like to Caucus But Iraqis Don't?
Iowans seem pretty happy with their quadrennial caucuses. The results are now in and the 2004 presidential election season has been kicked off. Half a world away, however, Iraqi Shiites have launched massive demonstrations against the Bush administration's plan for caucuses to elect an interim national assembly. Why do Iowans love what Iraqi Shiites hate?
It's simple: Iowa's version of caucuses is true grassroots democracy in action, whereas the U.S. occupation authority's version in Iraq is a sham. Having spent my formative years in Iowa and attended the neighborhood political meetings, I know that any Iowa voter can participate in debating and choosing among the candidates. For example, if my parents, who still live in Iowa, were Republicans or independents and wanted to take part in the Democratic caucuses -- because that's where the action was in 2004 -- they could change their party affiliation and caucus to their heart's delight.
In contrast, the Bush administration's planned caucuses in Iraq are designed to avoid genuine participative democracy -- direct elections that the majority Iraqi Shiites desire -- because any government so elected might be less U.S. friendly than one created from the well-choreographed caucus process. Without examining the details of the administration's plan, the American media has treated the caucus versus direct election dispute in Iraq as if it were merely two different ways of bringing democracy to Iraq. Despite the administration's grandiose rhetoric about invading Iraq to bring democracy to Iraq and to the Middle East, however, its actions to date have indicated a preference for a U.S.-friendly government, rather than a democratic one. When the U.S. occupation authority's plan for caucuses is examined closely, it is not hard to see why Iraqi Shiites disapprove.
Unlike the Iowa version of the caucuses, open to everyone, participants in the Iraqi version, under the current administration plan, have to be either selected by the Iraqi Governing Council -- the hand-picked body of Iraqis fronting for U.S. viceroy Paul Bremer's rule of Iraq -- or chosen by local government officials who are cooperating with the U.S. occupation authority. Of course, the Shiites -- with more than 60 percent of Iraq's population -- realize that the Bush administration is afraid of where a democratic election would take Iraq. The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Iraqi Shiite leader, has insisted on direct elections and organized large street demonstrations to rally popular support for his position.
The U.S. occupation authority's response to Sistani's position is to claim that direct elections cannot be held by July 1 -- the self-imposed U.S. deadline for appearing to turn over Iraq to the Iraqis -- because no census can be taken by that time or voter rolls created. Sistani is skeptical of those arguments and has demanded that the United Nations confirm that a direct election cannot be held by that date.
Sistani's intransigence and his popularity in Iraq have caused the occupation authority to modify its caucus plan and try to win endorsement by the previously reviled United Nations. Kofi Annan, the U.N.'s Secretary General, eager to get the previously shut out United Nations back into the Iraq game, is already caving to U.S. pressure.
Even if direct elections are not practical before July 1, however, what is so sacrosanct about that date? If the United States really wanted to see democracy in Iraq, more international involvement in the political process could be sought -- thus allowing the date for direct elections to be pushed back. But eventual direct elections -- to affect a delayed, but genuine, transfer of power to Iraqis -- does not suit the occupation authority's aims. First, with the current guerrilla war still raging in Iraq, the appearance of progress toward Iraqi self-determination is needed before the U.S. presidential election in November 2004.
Second, leaving aside inflated rhetoric about bringing democracy to the Middle East and eliminating the apparently nonexistent threat Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the real purpose of the U.S. invasion appears to have been to get additional military bases to dominate Persian Gulf oil -- particularly since Saudi Arabia wanted U.S. forces to withdraw from bases there. Holding direct elections would undoubtedly elect a Shiite-dominated government, which is likely to create much less predictable relations with U.S. occupation forces. Such a government could very likely make the embarrassing request that all U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq -- negating the original purpose of the invasion.
But there is a worse possibility. Early unrepresentative caucuses, seen by most Shiites as illegitimate, could ignite a civil war with U.S. forces caught in the middle.
So after an ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq, the administration now has no good option. But even if Persian Gulf oil needs military protection (many economists would say that it doesn't), it has been defended before 1991 without permanent land bases and could be in the future. In the face of continuing guerrilla attacks, the administration would be best advised to abandon its desire for bases in that unstable land and to bring in international supervision for delayed direct elections, which will ensure genuine popular political participation in Iraq. Then perhaps Iraqis will be as happy as Iowans are with their political process.
Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.
They are on their way to become evangelists and professional zionists. So help them Uncle Sam!!! w/ American tax payers money. 4 billion dollar a year would not suffice; need more $$$!!!
On a lighter and brotherly note-
H.A. would like to meet B.I. and ACC anywhere in the world for a tight, cuddly, brotherly hug. (Not an un-intended statement!). Brothers!!! I missed you! Sorry, we have not seen each since our births. Let us meet and hug to make Mother Eve happy. She is crying all the time. She has been using up all the KLEENEX in the heaven. Only our brotherly hug can stop her crying.
How can GWBush promise genuine elections in Iraq! Hell, he himself was elected by 5 members of the US Supreme Court.
And he is facing a new election soon. And don't expect genuine election in November 2004 either.
Iraqi pullout by July 1, 2004 is based on the schedule of US elections. If there were no elections in US this year, GWBush would never have thought of leaving Iraq, no matter what the cost in death, manpower and money.
If the United States is trying to secure reliable sources of oil throughout the Middle East then perhaps Americans might profit by taking a moment to ponder what groups such as Al Qaida have set in motion. If God indeed favors the patient, the honest and the oppressed then perhaps Americans may wish to consider who that might be (and where they might be found).
Why did U.S. administrators disband Iraq's army in the first place, if they had previously been hoping to assure adequate representation of the sort of people the army had previously represented, including Baathists, Sunnis, secularists and so on? The right move, at least now, would seem to be to assure that Iraq's civil war is won by the sort of people who (at least so far) haven't been shooting at our friends and our country's military personnel. My suggestion would be to 'give them' their country... and then endeavor to make sure they retain it.
the article brings up some important points, but america is trying to avoid direct democratic elections in order to avoid majority/mob rule. i'm sure if that happened the shia would take revenge against the sunni, starting yet another series of atriocities. here in the states, it prevents those who live in urban areas from trampling on the rights of those who live in rural areas. it works well.
America does deserve credit, it deserves credit for putting Saddam in power, for giving him WMD at the height of his brutality, for giving the green light to invade Kuwait, for bombing Iraq back to the stone age, placing murderous 12 year long sanctions of its populace killing over 1.5 million Iraqis all the while making Saddam's grip tighter, and now you concotted lies to invade a country floating on oil and you claim to "liberate" it. Bringing something to Iraq which you yourselves dont have. I got news for you though boy, its not going to work.
You people are disgusting and sick to the core. Its no wonder Americans are despised the world over and rightly so. The Almighty does NOT bless liars, murderers, theives, thugs and gangsters.
ALSO, WHEN AMERICA DROVE THE FARCICAL TALIBAN OUT OF AFGHANISTAN THERE WERE RUMORS THAT AMERICA WANTED ACCESS TO THE ENERGY RESOURCES OF THE CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS. IT IS HIGH TIME THAT THE FEELINGS OF THE COMMON MAN BE RECOGNIZED RATHER THAN HAVE THE OPINIONS OF OPINION-LEADERS PARADED AS THE TRUTH. ONE OWNER OF AN AFGHAN GROCERY STORE TOLD ME A COUPLE OF DAYS BACK THAT HE WISES THE AMERICANS NEVER LEAVE AFGHANISTAN.
WHY DON'T WE EVER HEAR THE OTHER SIDE? IT'S TIME TO THANK AMERICA FOR ITS GUTS AND DECENCY. WITHOUT AMERICA NATIONS WOULD STILL BE TRADING WITH SADDAM AND THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL WOULD
REPEAT THAT "SADDAM HUSSEIN IS A PERSON I CAN DEAL WITH." ITS TIME TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE AND AMERICA GETS THE CREDIT FOR ITS BRAVE AND HEROIC ACTION. GOD BLESS THIS GREAT NATION.
The Kurds werent betrayed numerous times by the "liberators," and it will happen again and this time I'll be clapping. As for the Shi'a, word of caution, the "liberators" didnt invade Iraq to give it back to you. To believe such will prove to be a fatal folly.
The accusation by the Shiites that the governing council is illegitimate is a matter of fact.
The political position in American is one-man one women one vote one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. When it comes to bringing this same democratic process to Iraq its done with a hand picked bunch of puppets who will in turn hand pick the ruling party to lead Iraqis into a free and democratic nation- with America plucking the fruits of Arab labor. The Iraqi people need not be part of this process.
After twelve years of constant bombing, America made an astonishing military victory in Iraq with no pretence to secure lasting peace that will leave Iraq with any form of dignity. And for this reason America must fail in Iraq. If she does not fail she will fly like a locust to the next weak and militarily defenseless country and repeat this same process- in the name of making America safer and to free those helpless people from a tyrannical government.
May God bless America in her time of need.