Soon after Bush spoke of the Iraqi election as “a landmark day in the history of liberty,” early returns representing 90 percent of the ballots cast in the Iraq election established that the clear winners were Shiite and Sunni religious parties not the least bit interested in Western-style democracy or individual freedom — including such extremists as Muqtada al-Sadr, whose fanatical followers have fought pitched battles with U.S. troops.
The silver lining, of course, is that the election did see broad participation, if not particularly clean execution. And because all of the leading parties say they want the United States to leave on a clear and public time line, this should provide adequate cover for a staged but complete withdrawal from a sovereign country that we had no right to invade in the first place.
What we will leave behind, after hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lost lives, will be a long ways from the neoconservative fantasy of creating a compliant democracy in the heart of the Middle East. It is absurd for Bush to assert that the election “means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror,” ignoring how he has “lost” Iraq to the influence and model of “Axis of Evil” Iran. Tehran’s rogue regime, which has bedeviled every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, now looms larger than ever over the region and most definitely over its oil. “Iran wins big in Iraq’s election,” reads an Asia Times headline, speaking a truth that American policy makers and much of the media is bent on ignoring: “The Shiite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years,” the paper predicts based on the returns to date. “Former premier Ayad Allawi’s prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.”
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Robert Scheer in Truthdig: