Monday, November 22, 2004
Crawling from the Wreckage
Iraq is aflame. I don't think that's a news item or an opinion. It is the reality. The promises of "Everything will be better once we get Saddam out of there" have revealed themselves to be empty. Almost everything is worse. The investments for reconstruction? There will be lots of reconstruction that needs to be done to replace the factories and homes, but they aren't really that tasty for investors, so they may never be realised. The improvement in the living standards of an Iraqi people liberated are just more fables of the reconstruction.
There has been a hell of a lot of destruction. First the raids and blitzes. Then the widespread banditism and looting. Then the second phase of the war and occupation. And, in the midst of all this ruin and wreckage..... the Iraqis are expected to vote.
How can the Iraqis be expected to vote in the current conditions? I am not talking about the practical difficulties of the matter, which are innumerable. I am speaking of the moral ones. When there is a cataclysmic event going on, such as the constant turmoil and destruction of all Iraqi infrastructures and social systems, not to mention the war which is drawing on and dividing the Iraqis into ethnic groups, camps and factions pitted one against the other, how can serene and honest campaigning be done? How can it have any semblance of being a popular vote, and not just a simple technique to legitimize the occupation? How can the safety of the people, candidates and voters alike, be assured? Is the concept of a national identity for the well being of the nation instilled enough to promote such elections? Isn't the presence of an occupying force inhibiting to the free and democratic expression of the Iraqi people? Can a people occupied really decide their own future? Will there be permitted a party whose program is immediate ending of US presence in Iraq and the ceasing of the occupation, which is one of the primary elements of Iraqi resistance and popular opinion.
And, importantly, how can the total participation of the populace be guaranteed? It can't. That is the point. It won't, and that is something which will make whatever result comes out of the ballot boxes a farce. There will be areas that will be prohibited from voting. Major segments of the population will be excluded from the vote. Not to mention that notwithstanding the largescale boycotts called by the Association of the Ulema, adhered to by dozens of factions of Iraqi civil society, the voice of the people will count for little to nothing. But, somehow, some way, things will stay the same as they are now. A total disaster.