Tuesday, January 27, 2004

# Posted 12:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  


The procedures in place for choosing [the new Iraqi] government are insufficiently democratic and excessively complex. Unless the transition goes well, Washington's chances of extricating itself from the day-to-day political and security problems of Iraq could fade.

The system for choosing a new government is built around a convoluted sequence of caucuses in which appointed officials are supposed to solicit and then screen nominations from local dignitaries. The process allows no direct participation by ordinary Iraqis and provides no assurance that all important elements of the population will be appropriately represented.
Whatever is decided on, not all Iraqis will be happy. That is why any plan needs the international legitimacy U.N. involvement can bring. The current dispute might have been avoided if the U.N. had been included at an earlier stage. Instead, the agreement that set up the flawed caucus plan was drawn up last fall without U.N. participation. It is encouraging to see Washington, however belatedly, now trying to correct that mistake.
Huh? Iraqis deprived of their democratic rights will somehow be happy if the UN sanctions a less-than-democratic transition plan? Or if the UN had drawn up an undemocratic transition plan in tandem with the United States? By the same logic, one might be led to believe that 44th St. would've accepted the result of the Florida recount four years ago if Kofi Annan had told them to.

I think the real problem here is the NYT's inability to recognize that the people of Iraq know what democracy is and value it. And that the people of Iraq, unlike the editors of the NYT, don't see undemocratic international organizations as a source of democratic legitimacy. Perhaps Ayatollah Sistani will accept the American plan if the UN endorses it unconditionally. But then Shi'ites will be accepting the American plan because of their respect for Sistani, not their respect for the UN.
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