S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Iraq - Across the Sea

This is a busy season for ocean cruises. It is winter in the U.S., cold and disagreeable - if you are not a skier. Escaping to the warm breezes and languid luxury of a beautiful lagoon seems like a wonderful idea. I have done it more than once. And each time I was mercifully out of touch with what was going on in the rest of the world while I was away.

But that was then and this is now. It is not in our best interest to be out of touch with the rest of the world these days, because our military forces are at war across the sea. In Iraq the United States military is also in the process of nation building.

Come December 15 something very important will be happening, an election to seat a permanent governing body for the Iraqi people (see title link to the election in Wikipedia). In a story about our current president's speech on Iraq, U.S. News concludes that,
. . . rebuilding public support for the war remains Job 1. In the run-up to the December 15 National Assembly elections in Iraq, Bush will make his pitch in three more speeches. He will argue that democracy in Iraq is strengthening, the Iraqi economy is improving, and the Mid-east will be a better place when Iraq is stable and peaceful. It amounts to an appeal for trust and patience at a time when both seem to be in short supply.
In a related post Think Progress has an excellent entry critically deconstructing the President's "Victory" strategy.

No one is sure what the results of the election will be. But the following links will provide insight from the point of view of the people of Iraq.
  • "Iraqi in America" wants to know, "Would Iraqis vote for a more sincere, fair and secular government in the upcoming election? I sure hope so."
  • Fayrouz's interview with an Iraqi woman offers an excellent look into what it was like in Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion.
  • Riverbend at "Baghdad Burning" is a wonderful and popular blogger who offers another powerful window into what is like to be a woman citizen of Iraq.

What will happen after the December 15 election in Iraq? Iraq is clearly in transition, according to an excellent in depth page of news on Iraq at Yahoo!
The best case scenario, in my opinion, would be that there would be enough votes by secular Shiites, Christians, Sunnis and Kurds to offset a big victory by those who who would favor a Shiite theocracy. They all need to learn to govern a federally united Iraq together. Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment posted today about Ayatollah Sistani's maneuverings around the election.

As far as what I would like the United States to do then, I agree with Jonathan Rauch, writing opinion for the WaPo, who argues that we will begin to pull out of Iraq fairly soon. But that may be too simple a scenario. Matthew Yglesias has several good posts on the complexities of our Iraq involvement at the TPM Cafe.

The worst case scenario, in my opinion, would be that the U.S. maintains a set of permanent bases in Iraq from which to launch other attacks in the region.
What do other pessimists think? DrForbush at Daily Kos has a rather widely held view, decrying the lies about the Iraq war.

As Americans we have much to gain or lose in the Iraq election across the sea. The world shrunk immeasureably with advent of the second war in Iraq. Few of us can be on cruise oblivious to the election results and the eventual U.S. decisions flowing out of the outcome.

What is much more important, however, is what happens to the people of Iraq afterwards. They have everything to lose unless they can get together and get stronger very soon.


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