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Posted: 12/18/2005 8:11:19 AM EDT
Preliminary reports on the Iraq Elections

Early reports (see these two reports from Iraqis reporting on behalf of Pajamas Media) on the Iraqi elections emphasize that much of the visible security presence wears a local face. Excerpts:

The deployment of Iraqi security forces on the streets was heavy with a noticeable absence of American forces except for their presence in the skies; there are many Apache helicopters and jet fighters as well as small surveillance planes al over Baghdad. ...

the Peshmerga, police and “Asayesh” security corps are doing a great job in providing a safe environment for the voters.

There's an update. Things are still quiet, except for some back and forth about the truck of ballots from Iran, whose existence the Iraqi defense minister apparently denies.

Boring Iraq elections? Salon talks about the tedious Slate coverage by Tamara Chalabi. Elections. In Iraq. That's the kind of boredom people have been fighting for. I had forgotten that in the headline grabbing business, good news is bad news. Realistically, there's bound to be incidents. But there's nothing wrong with being grateful for small mercies.

06:04 December 15, 2005 EST. ABC news is reporting Mortar Lands Near Green Zone As Polls Open.


For one Kurdish writers view of the situation see Kurds should take lessons from past. His basic take:

"The U.S. Administration is desperately searching for a magical political formula to reassemble Iraq as a unified state, and to weaken the increasing ties between Iraqi Shiites and the Iranian theocracy, which reaped the beneficial fallout of the 2003 Iraqi war. Regardless of the Administration’s rhetoric of spreading democracy in the Middle East, it wants to reassure its traditional allies that the U.S. is mindful of their concerns about the stability of their governments and that it would not embark on any radical program that would jeopardize their interests. The U.S. as well as Arab states have become increasingly wary of the close ties between Iraqi Shiites and Iranian theocracy, which they would like to weaken at all costs."

Israpundit sees America as having won the military war but as losing the peace.

"If America comes to the conclusion that their ultimate goals are not achievable, they will settle for destroying WMD and then install a Shiite regime in the south that is dependant on them and a Kurdish regime in the North that is dependant on them and whoever they can in Bagdad. Then they will get the hell out. It will all have been for naught with more negative fallout then positive benefits."

From either of these premises the "insurgency" is now a sideshow. Neither assigns much importance to troop numbers, or WMDs or anything else that the international press saw as important. The real concerns of both articles is how OIF has changed or will change regional balances.

In retrospect, almost everybody saw Iraq through their parochial prisms. Israel through the lens of its regional insecurities and the Lebanon experience. The Kurds from the viewpoint of their own national aspirations. In probably the strangest perspective of all, many Americans saw Iraq as Vietnam.

My own view is that America's position resembles Britain's vis-a-vis early 19th century Europe, when it held the balance of power on a continent racked with rivalries, switching sides to maintain the equilibrium. This is precisely what the Kurds (in the article above) now think Khalilzid is doing when he sweetalks the Sunnis. Alliance politics is a marvelous and cynical thing. I wouldn't be surprised if Saudi Arabia made nice to Israel if it were worried enough about Iran.

What OIF did was make America a direct factor in Middle East politics, not just from an offshore vantage, but on a much more direct basis. Was this good? Was there a choice?

Marine Captain Jeffrey Poole, who is the PAO says:

Though we have no official numbers, the voting in Al Anbar far surpassed our expectations. This is especially true in the Western Al Anbar cities, such as Husaybah and Barwana, which, until recently, were under al Qaeda in Iraq-led insurgents’ influence.

posted by wretchard at 1:28 AM | 76 comments
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