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Iraq Election: Rhetoric Roundup
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, January 31, 2005

Juan Cole:
I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a "political earthquake" and "a historical first step" for Iraq. It is an event of the utmost importance, for Iraq, the Middle East, and the world.
Imagine how much it would have appalled Juan Cole had US news coverage included phrases like "political earthquake", "historical first step", or "an event of the utmost importance, for...the world". Cause that would have been, you know, ridiculous.

Or there's this criticism of changing US electoral policies...

...which is quite a lot of flexibility for a guy about whom Cole once wrote "The thing that most worries me is ... when a politician refuses even to consider changing his mind", and that Bush was guilty of a "single-mindedness and refusal to even think about altering course".

Damned if you do/don't, you know...

UPDATE: The Belgravia Dispatch has more on Juan Cole...

Kieran Healy makes the important cautionary note...

It's a step in the right direction, and a vital one, but elections are not--in and of themselves--democracy.

It's also worth remembering what John Cole writes: "No one is pretending this is anything but what it was- the first election the Iraqi's have had in 50 years, and a step in the right direction."

Meanwhile, Oliver Willis moves the goalposts...
You know, I really wish Iraq were having an honest, safe, real election. But that isn't happening, and that's a shame.
Of course, Oliver has got to pretend the elections are not "honest, safe, real", because his previous prediction -- that "people aren't going to go out to vote if there's a chance their heads will be blown off" -- turned out to be, er, less than accurate.

UPDATE: Bonus, unrelated Oliver knocking: snicker as Oliver manages to bash Glenn Reynolds for "cherry-pick[ing a] fringe member of the left ... to represent the left because it serves [Reynolds'] ideological purposes".....

....just a few posts before he picks out a single comment to a blog post, and asks "Golly, wonder why some people think the GOP is lousy with racists?".

Somehow, the hypocrisy manages to escape him.

Bradford Plumer points to some good signs from the Arab media...
It seems that the big bad Arab media boogeymen, al-Jazeerah and al-Arabiyah, both put a relatively positive spin on Iraq's elections today. ... Regardless, this should give some ammo to those unnamed State Department Arabists who think the U.S. should be working with the Arab media, rather than censoring it. Right on.
In my opinion, nothing is more important to our long-term Mid-East strategy than the promulgation of a free media. Al-Jazeerah, problematic as they have occassionally been, is a significant step in the right direction. If there's any way in which the US can support the popular initiation of mainstream media outlets without becoming entangled in conspiracy theories about "US Puppets", we should do so.

Frankly, we should have been doing so long ago.

Robert Fisk on January 30th...
...the poll is for a parliament to write a constitution and the men who will form a majority within it will have no power.

Robert Fisk on January 31st...
But it was the sight of those thousands of Shi'ites, the women mostly in black hejab covering, the men in leather jackets or long robes, the children toddling beside them, that took the breath away. ... They came to claim their rightful power in the land...
For those of you keeping score, those voters were claiming the "power" which won't exist.

Oh, and when Robert Fisk writes...
They have no control over their oil, no authority over the streets of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police force.
Or, you know, whatever...
Iraq's Oil Ministry has awarded its first contract since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, choosing a Turkish, British and local company to develop a northern oil field, a ministry spokesman said.
For those of you still bothering to keep score, the Iraqi Oil Ministry is awarding contracts for oil over which they have no control.

Raed In the Middle:
The cowardly and corrupt bush administration, working along with the dirty allow(ie) government is coercing Iraqis to vote. The allow(ie) puppets are threatening Iraqis who don't vote that they will not get their monthly food rations.

The bush gang can do anything to reach to their goals. I mean ANYTHING.
However, if you follow the link he provides, you'll find that the basis for this "threatening Iraqis" with their food rations assertion is "a rumor voiced by Abed that Iraqis who don't vote will have their monthly food rations taken away."

Oh, and the source of the rumor goes on to say point out that he doesn't know if it's even correct. But it's good enough for Raed.

Finally, at Instapundit, a readers writes what may be the most coherent description of the gulf between supporters and critics of the war...
For most of the past two years, the debate on how well Iraq is going seems to boil down to this: one group says that it's a complete disaster, the only successes are tactical, not strategic, and the insurgency is gaining strength. The other group says that it's going quite well, thank you, and the insurgency's successes are only tactical, not strategic.

In short, you either believe that Iraq is mostly a success, or you believe it's mostly a failure. (Andrew Sullivan appears to be in both groups.) In any case, weren't today's elections the biggest test yet of whether the glass is mostly full or mostly empty over there? Yeah, there were some attacks by the insurgents that met with some tactical success, but a whole lot of people showed up all over the country and voted. It seems to me that after today, there can no longer be much debate about who's in control of most of Iraq, or as to whether most people there want to participate in a democratic process that moves the country forward from where it's been.
For ~2 years now, critics have deduced "quagmire" from every clue. Critics have pointed to the ongoing insurgency, and decried ongoing US efforts to rebuild the infrastructure--reference: pretty much any "but we're building schools!" mockery--as if the one counts, but the other doesn't.

It's far to soon to tell whether this will be a success, but it's not too soon to point out that it is, to this point, following the path along which Iraq will find democratization.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Olliver Willis has acquired a new moniker in parts of the blogosphere. A commenter on Jeff's Protein Wisdom called him "Baghdad Blob".
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Why can't the left admit this is better than "Yes No" elections as they existed under Saddam. They can't even offer an alternative.

Written By: Goldmember
well, let's be fair to Willis, here. He's not the only one trying to move the goalposts. Reconsider Kieran Healy's words. What is...
It's a step in the right direction, and a vital one, but elections are not--in and of themselves--democracy.
... BUT a moving of the goalposts... a redefinition of failure, since the first definition they contunully offered up failed to prove true? It's clear to my reading that Healy's among those still holding out hope that Mr. Bush will trip over something/anything so as to allow the credibility the left lost over all of this, to miraculously re-appear.

And isn't it interesting that Healy's comments are the only ones about the election to be found at Kos?
Written By: Bithead
Oliver, Raed, and the rest of the naysayers can take a flying f**k for all I care at this point. Something incredible happened yesterday in world history and nothing and nobody can take that away from either the Iraqis or the Americans who made it possible.

BTW...we now have comeback in the future every time a moonbat says "It's turning into another Viet Nam..."

We can say "You mean it's turning into another Iraq!"
Written By: superhawk
yep, same talking points.

Jeralyn Merritt used that same exact phrase.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://

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