Sunday, December 19, 2004

# Posted 8:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SHI'ITES MURDERED: One car bomb in Karbala. Another in Najaf . More than sixty dead. The following reaction seems typical:
"I swear to God, even if they burn all the elections centers, we will still go and vote," said Ali Waili, a 29-year-old taxi driver .
I guess the United States doesn't really have to promote democracy in Iraq -- the insurgents are already doing that for us. But David Ignatius argues that democracy in Iraq means a puppet for Iran:
Iran is about to hit the jackpot in Iraq, wagering the blood and treasure of the United States. Last week an alliance of Iraqi Shiite leaders announced that its list of candidates will be headed by Abdul Aziz Hakim, the clerical leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
My impression has been that SCIRI is not an advocate of Shi'ite fundamentalism. But if Ignatius says it is, then it's time for me to do more research. The one point on which I can't agree with Ignatius is that
Given the stakes for the United States in these elections, you might think we would quietly be trying to influence the outcome. But I am told that congressional insistence that the Iraqi elections be "democratic" has blocked any covert efforts to help America's allies. That may make sense to ethicists in San Francisco, but how about to the U.S. troops on the ground?
I think, or pehaps I hope, that our troops on the ground believe that what they need most is a legitimate government in Baghdad. And covert operations don't have much of a record of producing legitimate governments.

Which isn't to say that we haven't tried to influence the election. From the assault on Fallujah to the distribution of aid to the actions of our the US-sponsored Allawi government, America is already exerting a profound influence on Iraqi politics. If those above-the-board methods aren't enough, I doubt that covert ops will make much of a difference.
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