Prospects for Iraqi Democracy

by Kieran Healy on January 31, 2005

The Iraqi elections have gone off successfully, in the sense that the turnout was good and the violence relatively contained. That’s very good news. Now comes the hard business of establishing a real government. I’m sympathetic with John’s view that it might not be such a bad thing if the U.S. took a “Declare Victory and Go Home” attitude, even though that’s one of the scenarios people were most worried by before the invasion. Getting out would leave the government in a position to at least try to run its own country, instead of inevitably playing second-fiddle to the U.S. occupying forces. I’m not sure any more that this is likely to happen, though.

The best possible outcome of the weekend’s election is a successful completion of the present government’s term followed by another real election. It’s often said that the key moment in the growth of a democracy is not its first election but its second, because—as Adam Przeworski says somewhere—a democracy is a system where governments lose elections. The question planners need to be asking is what are the chances that Iraq will be able to do this again in four or five years without the presence of U.S. troops and with the expectation that whoever wins will get to take power. This partly depends on whether some functioning government can really be established within the country, and partly on whether the U.S. wants a working democracy in Iraq (with the risks that implies) or just a friendly puppet state.

To take a weak comparison, the Irish State’s independent existence began with the the election of 1922, when William Cosgrave’s government took power. But the leading opposition party—Eamon De Valera’s Sinn Fein—refused to recognize the results of the election and did not take their seats in the Dáil. Much against the odds, Cosgrave’s government successfully instituted a system of local government, established a civil police force, began a program of electrification and dealt with an army mutiny, all the while facing the problem that the main opposition party did not recognize the legitimacy of the state. (Contempt for election results is one of the defining features of Irish Republicanism, incidentally.) By 1926, things were clearly stabilizing and De Valera began to cop on to the fact that the state wasn’t going to fail. So he walked away from Sinn Fein, founded Fianna Fáil and took his seats in parliament (under legal pressure from the electoral amendment act). In 1932 Fianna Fáil won a majority in the election and Cosgrave handed over power to De Valera. That was a remarkable moment, seeing as the front benches of both parties were made up of families who’d been trying to kill each other a decade earlier. None of this would have happened if the British Army had continued to be a real presence in the day-to-day life of the country.

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. But it seems to me that if Iraq is going to succeed as a democracy then it has to consolidate itself in something like this way. A continued heavy military presence by the U.S. won’t help this goal, because it won’t do anything to legitimate the government as an independent entity. Withdrawal risks civil war, but this is essentially what’s going on already, just with the lid barely kept on. The current prospects are not good at all, especially with respect to the continuous attacks on the new police force and the efforts to systematically eliminate the nascent political class. The fact that Iraq has a lot of oil and was formerly a brutal dictatorship doesn’t help much either. Ireland, fortunately, had neither of these features. Instead, it was an agrarian backwater no-one cared about, and had been administered as a colony by Britain, which did things like build railways and run a civil service. The new government inherited the state apparatus and didn’t have to worry about its geopolitical position. Cases of successful transitions in resource-rich nations are few: Botswana springs to mind, I suppose. Though there the consensus is that “three honest men” (the first three heads of state) were what got them through without a coup or a descent into anarchy. This is a depressingly un-sociological conclusion. It’d be much better if it all depended on something reliable, like the proportion of the population over 30, or the percentage of homes with running water or something. Honest men are thin on the ground.

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1

sock thief 01.31.05 at 12:46 am

Yugoslavia may be a reasonable comparison. Demise of dictatorship allows ethnic and religious animosities to surface. Iraq in those term is doing better.

I don’t think the US wants a “puppet” government.

2

Brett Bellmore 01.31.05 at 12:59 am

Look, could we AT LEAST stick around until we’ve finished training the new Iraqi army? Demands, originating from domestic opponents of the war, that we cut and run ASAP, have the stink of hoping that defeat can yet be snatched from the jaws of victory, if only we can be persuaded to leave the job before it’s finished.

3

Peter Clay 01.31.05 at 1:07 am

Note that Ireland was and is ethnically and culturally homogenous – apart from the North, where violence continues 80 years later. That homogeneity, and resulting lack of reasons to fight one another, contributed to the state’s success.

4

Kieran Healy 01.31.05 at 1:10 am

Brett — l imagine most people would be in favor of saying “leave as soon as there’s a good chance the place won’t collapse on itself.” At the same time, staying longer will continue to undermine the new government, and of course continue to get American soldiers killed. Balancing these is a problem I have little idea how to solve.

5

Kieran Healy 01.31.05 at 1:13 am

Peter – yeah, there’s that, too. So that’s three strikes against Iraq (no functioning infrastructure; resource rich; internally divided on ethnic/religious lines). And presently occupied by a foreign power.

6

am 01.31.05 at 1:25 am

“what are the chances that Iraq will be able to do this again in four or five years”

The next election is scheduled for 12 months hence. This parliament’s main function will be to determine the long-term constitutional structure.

7

DeWayne 01.31.05 at 1:47 am

The one thing I would had hoped from a sociologist was some more informed attention to the social conditions for democratic governance. No,lad, it ain’t Ireland or Bosnia or Botswana. Another blogger ventured the Philippines shortly after American occupation but of course there weren’t any elections but only a miserable occupation and guerilla war.

Something approaching democracy survives only to the extent that most involved consent to some procedural ground rules over acquiring, exercising or distributing power. I don’t see where the consent or the ground rules are and I see plenty of evidence of multiple parties seeking to scuttle the process or abuse it for their own ends and this includes the US.

This is a sham election resulting from a scam government and all we get is spam-like observations.

Rightwingers betray their soviet sytle inclinations since all they’re interested is a the appearance of democratic elections. If there are candidates on a list, a mechanism to record votes, and people officially called voters then clearly democratic elections have been held and democratic governance exists.

Ugh…

8

Kieran Healy 01.31.05 at 1:52 am

No,lad, it ain’t Ireland or Bosnia or Botswana.

Yes, the point of the post was that Iraq didn’t seem much like the successful cases. Except without the added condescention. Are you 75 or 80? Do you remember when all this were nowt but fields?

9

blueshoe 01.31.05 at 2:20 am

However the nascent Iraqi government turns out, I can’t believe anyone thinks the U.S. military can leave soon or at all. World oil extraction appears to have peaked; the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a chance to toss our helmet into a ring that will be enormously contested. Earlier there was some feinting and ducking about fighting terrorism and rooting out WMD. “Establishing democracy” is the latest Trojan horse–one that lends itself easily to justifying a permanent U.S. military occupation.

10

John Isbell 01.31.05 at 2:28 am

Watch the US opinion polls. That’s all I ask.

11

John Isbell 01.31.05 at 2:29 am

Watch the US opinion polls. That’s all I ask.

12

John Isbell 01.31.05 at 2:35 am

Just watch the uS polls. That’s all I ask.

13

Brett Bellmore 01.31.05 at 2:40 am

As I recall, Afghanistan was about oil, too. Don’t you guys ever come up with new lines?

14

John Isbell 01.31.05 at 2:45 am

Hey, 3 times! Let me say it a 4th: watch the US polls, that’s all I ask. It did its song and dance about not posting the comment and not showing it.

15

yabonn 01.31.05 at 3:03 am

Don’t you guys ever come up with new lines?

“The invasion of the second biggest oil reserves in the world has nothing to do with oil. It’s about ties to al-q… i mean weapons of mass destr… i mean democracy promotion around the world.”

Did my best.

16

tom 01.31.05 at 3:36 am

Why are all the commentators and especially Bush people so orgasmic about these elections? I fail to understand how anonymous voters voting for anonymous candidates constitutes a legitimatge election. Sounds sort of like butterfly ballots cubed.

17

Davis X. Machina 01.31.05 at 3:48 am

I wasn’t thinking of the early Irish republic, but if DeValera was known by contemporaries as the ‘Cute Hoor’, whatever that translates into in Arabic should do Mr. Chalabi a treat.

18

Davis X. Machina 01.31.05 at 3:49 am

I wasn’t thinking of the early Irish republic, but if DeValera was known by contemporaries as the ‘Cute Hoor’, whatever that translates into in Arabic should do Mr. Chalabi a treat.

19

MQ 01.31.05 at 4:48 am

Damn, Brett, what exactly is going on in your head there? How much clear thought has been replaced with a running tape loop about crazy left wingers? Do you *seriously* believe we would be in Iraq if not for the oil reserves in the Persian Gulf? Geopolitics, hello?

20

Robert Tagorda 01.31.05 at 5:01 am

The Przeworski reference is from Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. I wrote about that very topic — how real democracy requires “repeatability” as well as “uncertainty” and “irreversibility” — here, in case anyone’s interested.

21

Robert Tagorda 01.31.05 at 5:02 am

The Przeworski reference is from Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. I wrote about that very topic — how real democracy requires “repeatability” as well as “uncertainty” and “irreversibility” — here, in case anyone’s interested.

22

alf 01.31.05 at 6:10 am

Is turnout really that good? First it was over 70% now it’s maybe 60%. That dosn’t sound good at all for such an important election. i’m going to be watching the turnout number closely.

23

Dave F 01.31.05 at 8:40 am

I was under the impression voting was anonymous in the US and all other western democracies. As for list voting, that is quite a widespread form of proportional representation.

I will echo John Pilger and say “We can’t afford to be choosy” — although he was talking about supporting the “resistance”, however ghastly.

24

Brett Bellmore 01.31.05 at 10:42 am

What I believe, MQ, is that leftist references to oil are intended to imply, (When they don’t outright state it.)that we’re there to steal the oil somehow, or establish control over it. Like we didn’t do in Kuait when we had the chance.

Whereas the truth is, that the only connection between our presence there, and the oil, is that the oil has given some very nasty people the resource base to be a threat despite the fact that their level of social development isn’t sufficient to sustain a modern economy. Kind of like a bratty two year old suddenly waking up one day with the body of adult, and his tantrums capable of breaking bones instead of merely being annoying.

25

Brett Bellmore 01.31.05 at 10:58 am

“Do you seriously believe we would be in Iraq if not for the oil reserves in the Persian Gulf?”

What I seriously believe, is that leftwing references to our being there because of the oil, are intended to imply (Where they don’t say it outright.) that we’re there to steal the oil, or otherwise assert control over it.

You know, kind of like we didn’t do in Kuait, when we had the chance?

Whereas the truth is, the only connection the oil has to our presence, is that it’s given nasty people, who on their own couldn’t sustain a modern economy, the resources to dominate their society, and become a threat to the rest of the world. We’re there because of the threat, but the threat is contingent on the oil.

But that’s not what you want people to think, is it?

26

Brett Bellmore 01.31.05 at 11:01 am

Damn, I even went back and refreshed to see if the post had taken, after getting that database error.

Can’t you find some less crumby software?

27

bad Jim 01.31.05 at 11:36 am

Just to echo Juan Cole: why couldn’t elections have been held a year ago? What’s improved in the meantime?

We take what we can get. Better late than ever.

28

dsquared 01.31.05 at 1:52 pm

What I believe, MQ, is that leftist references to oil are intended to imply, (When they don’t outright state it.)that we’re there to steal the oil somehow, or establish control over it.

No, those would be conspiracist references to oil. The “leftist” references to oil would be that the USA intervenes in oil-rich countries in order to stablise the price of oil and ensure continuity of world oil supplies, because large and politically influential private interests in the US depend for their economic survival on a stable oil market. Now this might or might not be true; I think that a lot of people make far too much of it, although I’d say that the idea that Iraq has nothing to do with oil is much siller than the idea that it’s all about oil. But it’s not the same claim as the one you suggest.

29

jet 01.31.05 at 1:57 pm

Thanks Brett for inserting some reason.

But going back to the original post “Withdrawal risks civil war, but this is essentially what’s going on already, just with the lid barely kept on.” Why is this so? The CIA says that the “military manpower available in Iraq” is 6.5 million men. If 20% of those are Sunnis you get 1.3 million Sunnis who could strap on a bomb. The high end of the estimates of combatants is 60,000 people. How many of those are from Iran, Syria, Jordon, etc? Hardly a civil war unless the US Whiskey Rebellion was a civil war.

Then, given the amount of money being paid to the insurgents, this is more of a mercenary forced coup attempt rather than a popular civil war.

But I understand you use of the words “civil war”. We are here to change minds after all. The difference is I try to keep it real without giving free points to homicidal killers.

30

perianwyr 01.31.05 at 2:04 pm

“The threat is contingent on the oil.”

You’re pretty close to agreeing on the central point: resource-rich countries just don’t, as a rule, make easy democratic transitions. Then, you can think a little about the folks that started this transition, and their almost complete dismissal of the difficulties this situation would produce. Take those sentiments and apply them (“Why do I have deep concern about Iraqi democracy, when the guys that were given the task to do something about it don’t seem to have that depth of concern?”) and you’ll be just about where the folks you’re arguing against are right now in this debate.

31

MQ 01.31.05 at 2:09 pm

How do you know what I want people to think, Brett?

Anyway, my own view is about exactly halfway between yours and your hypothesized left wing straw man. Your point about oil assets underpinning the power of middle eastern regimes is of course completely correct (despite the revealing outburst of patronizing racism about nasty two year olds). But if we control how nations use the revenues from their natural resources, that is in fact a form of controlling those natural resources. And just because we don’t and won’t crudely “steal” the oil doesn’t mean that a lot of oil revenues don’t end up in the hands of U.S. companies. The situation with Saudi Arabia is a good model here of the kind of compromise we like to make. They keep a huge chunk of their oil revenues, Aramco is nationalized, but a lot of those revenues are cycled back into the U.S. through contracts with U.S. companies and probably other means as well. We have a lot of influence over their foreign policy as well. We have demonstrably overthrown or attempted to overthrow governments that interfered with these cushy arrangements, from Mossadegh in Iran to Chavez in Venezuela today. It is much more complex than “stealing” since we do share with local elites, but the crude left wing version is probably closer to reality than a lot of crude right wing stuff out there.

And everybody knows that the Afghanistan invasion was about the fact that the Taliban was providing a home base for Al Qaeda. The pipeline stuff is silly.

32

abb1 01.31.05 at 3:16 pm

I think ‘stealing’ is as good a dysphemism as any, but I’d prefer ‘robbing’; ‘stealing’ kinda suggests it’s covert.

Mechanics are complex but the essence is simple. See the oil-related events in 1951-53 Iran.

33

Giles 01.31.05 at 3:29 pm

I’d have thought that the obvious analogy for transtion was the gulf
states on independence. The too were tribally divided and rescource rich.

And I think the choice they made was instructive. 5 of then federated into the UAE and one of them, Qatar, seperated.

My monies on an initial Kurdish/Sunni middle/Shia south federation – whith either the Shia’ ultimately optioning for speration while the Sunni’s and Kurds remain in a loose federation or all three splitting – I cant see the shia and sunnis ultimately enjoying a federation – not many examples of a cross relgious federations anywhere.

Anyway, the UAE is a pretty suceesfful and relatively liberal place, so this does at least point to a possible dream scenario.

34

P O'Neill 01.31.05 at 4:31 pm

I’m all for historical analogies (at least those not being made by the National Review) — but another advantage of the Irish Free State government was that the ugly business of dealing with the bit of the previous entity that didn’t want to be in the new state had already been dealt with by Partition. Thus for the new state, it was the issue of pragmatists versus irredentists, not of one big chunk that wanted out from the start. It’s hard to say the same about a New Iraq containing a nascent Kurdistan, or a less nascent but still lurking “Greater Iran” if the shia areas come under sustained attack from a Sunni insurgency. The Free State, more or less, knew where its borders were (similar to 3rd comment above).

35

abb1 01.31.05 at 5:30 pm

Anyway, the UAE is a pretty suceesfful and relatively liberal place, so this does at least point to a possible dream scenario.

Indeed it’s nice country, but it’s not much of a US client, and this is where your analogy fails. US clients are hardly ever liberal, because they work against interests of their populations.

A bunch of subservient crooks plundering their country’s resources is a much more typical model.

36

Sebastian Holsclaw 01.31.05 at 6:46 pm

“Indeed it’s nice country, but it’s not much of a US client, and this is where your analogy fails. US clients are hardly ever liberal, because they work against interests of their populations.”

And your point would be what? We don’t need a US client, we need a non-crazy regime.

37

abb1 01.31.05 at 7:14 pm

Well, Mr. Healy seems to be thinking along the same lines: “…whether the U.S. wants a working democracy in Iraq (with the risks that implies) or just a friendly puppet state.” That the US wants a friendly puppet state in Iraq is not a uncommon opinion, you know. I’d guess around 80-90% of the world’s population hold it.

Working democracy, BTW, would be a terrible idea as far as the US government is concerned. The first thing a working democracy in the ME does is nationalize the oil. The second thing it does is use the oil as a leverage – demanding something or other from Israel, the US or Europe. This usually is not considered a good thing to happen.

38

Giles 01.31.05 at 7:26 pm

UAE is a US client in the sense that they buy arms and so forth from the US so not to sure what you mean by “US client”.

The first thing a working democracy in the ME does is nationalize the oil

And the example of a working democracy that you refer to is ? Saudi Arabia, Eygpt Israel. Bit hard to work out what your point is here.

39

Louis Proyect 01.31.05 at 9:06 pm

Some Just Voted for Food

by Dahr Jamail January 31, 2005

BAGHDAD, Jan 31 (IPS) – Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.

Many Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote.

”I went to the voting centre and gave my name and district where I lived to a man,” said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. ”This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.”

Mohammed Ra’ad, an engineering student who lives in the Baya’a district of the capital city reported a similar experience.

Ra’ad, 23, said he saw the man who distributed monthly food rations in his district at his polling station. ”The food dealer, who I know personally of course, took my name and those of my family who were voting,” he said. ”Only then did I get my ballot and was allowed to vote.”

”Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,” said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.

There has been no official indication that Iraqis who did not vote would not receive their monthly food rations.

Many Iraqis had expressed fears before the election that their monthly food rations would be cut if they did not vote. They said they had to sign voter registration forms in order to pick up their food supplies.

full: http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/archives/hard_news/000192.php

40

Louis Proyect 01.31.05 at 9:09 pm

Ronald Reagan statement on the election of Jose Napoleon Duarte as President of El Salvador

May 18, 1984
On Wednesday, May 16, the Central Elections Commission of El Salvador certified Jose Napoleon Duarte as the winner of the May 6 Presidential election in that country. By this act, the people of El Salvador have made clear their choice of Mr. Duarte as the first popularly elected President of that country in recent history.

The voters have chosen as President a man who had dedicated his life to achieving democracy and reform for his homeland. We congratulate President-elect Duarte on his victory and pledge that we will do all in our power to strengthen the ties of freedom and democracy that unite us.

Mr. Duarte carried with him a clear mandate from the people of El Salvador, over 80 percent of whom voted on May 6, that democracy and the vote should determine their future. The United States bipartisan observer delegation noted that, “This election was fair and honest, and . . . provided a clear and undeniable mandate to whichever candidate is elected.” Election observers from other countries echoed a similar conclusion.

In protecting both rounds of the recent elections, the Salvadoran Armed Forces took more than 80 casualties, demonstrating once again their determination to defend freedom. They acted professionally and apolitically and are showing us now that they will respect the popular electoral will. In contrast, the guerrillas refused to participate in the election and intensified the combat before, during, and after the voting.

As El Salvador’s voters had to brave the intimidation of the guerrillas, their newly elected President will have to face the challenges of creating a peaceful and secure framework for social and humanitarian reform, economic development, and further democratic advance.

The people of El Salvador have spoken. We, along with other nations committed to a democratic form of government, must heed their courageous action. We will support their newly elected government in the pursuit of and the opportunity for a better life.

I look forward to meeting with El Salvador’s new President-elect on Monday, May 21, during his visit to Washington. In addition, I have asked Secretary of State George Shultz to head our delegation to the President-elect’s inauguration on June 1 in San Salvador.

41

Louis Proyect 01.31.05 at 9:21 pm

Ronald Reagan statement on the election of Jose Napoleon Duarte as President of El Salvador

May 18, 1984
On Wednesday, May 16, the Central Elections Commission of El Salvador certified Jose Napoleon Duarte as the winner of the May 6 Presidential election in that country. By this act, the people of El Salvador have made clear their choice of Mr. Duarte as the first popularly elected President of that country in recent history.

The voters have chosen as President a man who had dedicated his life to achieving democracy and reform for his homeland. We congratulate President-elect Duarte on his victory and pledge that we will do all in our power to strengthen the ties of freedom and democracy that unite us.

Mr. Duarte carried with him a clear mandate from the people of El Salvador, over 80 percent of whom voted on May 6, that democracy and the vote should determine their future. The United States bipartisan observer delegation noted that, “This election was fair and honest, and . . . provided a clear and undeniable mandate to whichever candidate is elected.” Election observers from other countries echoed a similar conclusion.

In protecting both rounds of the recent elections, the Salvadoran Armed Forces took more than 80 casualties, demonstrating once again their determination to defend freedom. They acted professionally and apolitically and are showing us now that they will respect the popular electoral will. In contrast, the guerrillas refused to participate in the election and intensified the combat before, during, and after the voting.

As El Salvador’s voters had to brave the intimidation of the guerrillas, their newly elected President will have to face the challenges of creating a peaceful and secure framework for social and humanitarian reform, economic development, and further democratic advance.

The people of El Salvador have spoken. We, along with other nations committed to a democratic form of government, must heed their courageous action. We will support their newly elected government in the pursuit of and the opportunity for a better life.

I look forward to meeting with El Salvador’s new President-elect on Monday, May 21, during his visit to Washington. In addition, I have asked Secretary of State George Shultz to head our delegation to the President-elect’s inauguration on June 1 in San Salvador.

42

abb1 01.31.05 at 9:58 pm

And the example of a working democracy that you refer to is ?

Iran

43

Solomon2 01.31.05 at 11:56 pm

Getting out would leave the government in a position to at least try to run its own country, instead of inevitably playing second-fiddle to the U.S. occupying forces.

I suppose you also believe that the governments of Germany, Japan, Belgium, etc. are all “inevitably playing second-fiddle to the U.S. occupying forces.”

44

Kieran Healy 02.01.05 at 2:31 am

.I suppose you also believe that the governments of Germany, Japan, Belgium, etc. are all “inevitably playing second-fiddle to the U.S. occupying forces.”

It took longer than I expected, but the trolls have arrived at last.

45

John 02.01.05 at 1:18 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

46

John 02.01.05 at 1:19 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

47

John 02.01.05 at 1:21 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

48

John 02.01.05 at 1:23 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

49

John 02.01.05 at 1:27 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

50

John 02.01.05 at 1:31 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

51

John 02.01.05 at 1:45 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

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John 02.01.05 at 2:05 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

53

John 02.01.05 at 2:40 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

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Kieran Healy 02.01.05 at 3:58 pm

I think that’s some kid of record. We really need to fix the comments.

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John 02.01.05 at 4:53 pm

Unlike thousands of desk-jockey warbloggers, I don’t have any expertise in Iraqi politics. I’ll state up front that I probably know less than you do about Iraqi politics. However, if there’s one aspect of the Iraqi situation that is significantly different than Ireland’s in 1922 it’s the neighbors. After the British left in ’22, their only real ambition would have been that the government under Cosgrave succeed and that the Republicans not assume power. Some of Iraq’s neighbors, however, have a vested interest in seeing the new state fail. I’ve read that there are Iranian sabateurs in Iraq and it seems almost beyond doubt that there are Islamists from other Sunni Arab nations also operating in Iraq.

If this is true, then isn’t it at least possible that the new Iraqi government will need the MNF to remain a while yet? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to give the new government some time to assume control over its borders and security.

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John 02.01.05 at 5:04 pm

Yes, you do need to fix the comments. The reason mine was posted so many times is that I got a 500 Server error each time. When I clicked reload my comment wasn’t there, so I tried again. Sorry about that.

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abb1 02.03.05 at 11:29 am

Chomsky on the ‘whether the U.S. wants a working democracy in Iraq (with the risks that implies) or just a friendly puppet state’ question: The Future of Iraq and the US Occupation. Enjoy.

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