Monday, January 31, 2005

Iraq The Vote

Well, the magic day has come and gone, and what have we, the occupiers, learned? Clearly, there are many, many Iraqis and Kurds who desire some level of democratic say in their (collective? separate?) lives. That's been obvious for some time, well before yesterday's vote. And we saw that the Shi'a, led by Ayatollah Sistani who declared that voting was a "religious duty," are looking to grab majority rule and impose some type of theocratic order on the rest of the population. Again, anyone who's paid attention to Iraq already knew this. And then there are the Sunnis, a minority relegated to a political status that most of them reject, some violently so, looking at their triumphant tribal foes with mounting disdain. Surprise? Again, again . . .

In short, Iraq's elections have only confirmed, and hardened, the obvious. Indeed, as some commentators pointed out, these elections are the result of Sistani's insistence on a direct ballot, as opposed to the narrow caucus system that the Bush gang tried to push earlier last year. For all the self-congratulatory wailing in our mass media about how "we" brought "freedom" to Iraq, I didn't see or hear many hosannas going Sistani's way. But then, I was sent running early by the sheer volume of crowing.

The American corporate media is truly unbelievable in every sense of the word. There's an almost adolescent need for anchors and commentators to be not only right all the time, but to demand praise for their correctness -- that is, when they've paused from praising themselves (a breath, maybe two). What media coverage I caught on Sunday was pretty repulsive in this regard, and it was instructive to see our quasi-state media drone on and on about "diversity" and "freedom." If someone spoke out against this consensus in any way, I'm sure they got smashed immediately. As I know from personal experience, the last thing the corporate media likes is having its stroke party interrupted. And if you accuse them of being in bed with the government . . . CAW! CAW!

Of course it's heartening to see the poor of Iraq engage in some kind of civic exercise, however limited. God knows these people have suffered in ways that Americans dare not even fantasize about. But, honestly, how do you have a "democratic" election while under foreign occupation, when the state is packed with elements from the old ruling order put in power by the occupiers, when much of the country is a free-fire zone, when there is intermittent electricity and running water, when, in order to vote, the occupiers have to essentially put much of the population in a cage? I dare say that if we in the US had to vote under such conditions, I highly doubt that anyone would seriously define it as a "blow for freedom."

We'll see how this all shakes down soon enough.

And can we end all this talk about our troops coming home? They're not coming home anytime soon, not with talk of "enduring" bases in Iraq and the surrounding region. This is a long-term imperial project. However wonderful the election was for those who found it wonderful, it is but one chapter in a larger, bloodier narrative that continues to unfold.

AND -- Here's a take from LBO-Talk pal, Dwayne Monroe.

AND 2 -- Patrick Cockburn, on the ground in Baghdad, provides his insights on the election.

AND 3 -- Close readers with a serious pop culture background will note that the visual link I provided above under "CAW! CAW!" shows those Terrytoon faves, Heckle and Jeckle, who are magpies, not crows. Dunno if magpies caw, but the image was too good to pass up.