Magog: Unguarded
Magog: Unguarded
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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Does Reuters have any scruples left?

U.S. Lowers Expectations for Once-Heralded Iraq Vote
Sun Jan 16, 8:07 AM ET
By Saul Hudson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Unable to deliver on its lofty goal of bringing democracy to Iraq through the Jan. 30 elections, the Bush administration is pressing a damage-control campaign to lower expectations for the vote.

EERRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTT - Wait a minute. I almost stopped reading after that opening sentence.

With fears for a low voter turnout among Sunni Arabs due to a boycott and insurgents' intimidation, the administration no longer touts the elections as a catalyst to spread democracy across the Arab world. Instead, U.S. officials now emphasize the political process that will follow the vote. "Clearly, we don't see the election itself as a pivotal point," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told NPR on Friday. "It's the beginning of a process, the process where Iraqis will write a constitution and at the end of the year will actually vote for a permanent government." Almost two years after Operation Iraqi Freedom, a raging insurgency across mainly Sunni areas forced the White House this week to prepare the American public for elections it called "less than perfect." For months, the Bush administration has been steadily lowering expectations over the vote, beginning with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in September warning violent areas of the country might be excluded. And with just two weeks to go, the administration acknowledges that despite military offensives meant to provide security for the vote, the fear of bullets and bombs will keep many for the 20 percent Sunni minority away from the ballot box. Rather than ushering in Iraq's first free and fair national elections for decades, the Bush administration has now limited its ambition for a vote it refuses to postpone.

The tone of this Op-Ed, er, article is just amazing.

"I think a successful election will be an election where most of the population has gotten a chance to vote, and even though we may not get the same kind of numbers in the Sunni area, we're going to have to go forward and use the results of this election to build on," Secretary of State Colin Powell told PBS. Powell has lobbied the Shi'ites, who were oppressed under former President Saddam Hussein by the dominant Sunnis, to include the disenfranchised Sunnis in the government after they overwhelmingly win the skewed vote. But the top U.S. diplomat acknowledged such maneuvering also risked inflaming the insurgency. "The insurgency is not going away as a result of this election. In fact, perhaps, the insurgents might become more emboldened," Powell said.

Critics of the administration's Iraq policy complain the elections for a 275-member assembly that should draw up a constitution and pick a transitional government are so flawed they will be illegitimate -- and counterproductive for democracy in the region. "These elections are a joke," said Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan. "The Bush administration has created the worst possible advertisement for democracy because the perception across the Middle East is that democracy means you get a country where everything is out of control," he said. Before the vote, the administration "has definitely gone into damage-control mode," Stephen Zunes, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco said. "Once their original rationale (to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction) fell apart, they created very high expectations for democracy to be able to justify their takeover," he said. "Now that they have ended up with a not particularly good demonstration of democracy, they are forced to lower the public's expectations for these elections."

So the article quotes two lefty extremists. More on Cole here, but you can Google him to make up your own mind. And they failed to mention this: Stephen Zunes is an associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. Zunes is known for such goodies as :

What would God think of a government that supplies more weapons, training and logistical support to more dictatorships and other human rights abusers than any other? If freedom and liberty are indeed the will of God, the foreign policy of the Bush Administration is nothing short of blasphemy. (link).

More from Zumes here.

Good reporting, Saul.

posted by Stoj | 4:37 PM
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