The Iraq Election

A radio link from Dahr Jamail seems to point out the obvious. The elections aren’t free. If you’ve been following the debate between Gilbert Achcar and Alex Callinicos, which has some interesting parts in it, you’re familiar with some of the things that have been said. Schwartz’s media guide was interesting and useful as well.


A radio link from Dahr Jamail seems to point out the obvious. The elections aren’t free. If you’ve been following the debate between Gilbert Achcar and Alex Callinicos, which has some interesting parts in it, you’re familiar with some of the things that have been said. Schwartz’s media guide was interesting and useful as well.

My own two cents, if they’re worth that much, are this. When US imperial strategy has been smartest and most effective it has exploited the horrific legacy of Saddam. Saddam’s brutality towards the Kurds made them supporters of the occupation. The exclusion of the Shia under Saddam made them very patient with the brutality of the US occupation. Achcar’s point seems to be that, in some sense – the Shia are patient because they were starting from nothing, with little to lose, and a lot to win. The insurgency, which has a popular and nationalist base, has anti-Shia elements. The insurgents were too competent from too soon after the invasion to not have some kind of military backbone, and if there really are a lot of those who held power in the former regime involved, they started from power and lost it, and so are looking to get back in. This is a formula that gives the US a lot of leeway. If they can offer the Shia more than Saddam did or the Sunni insurgency will, they may be able to make Iraq the client state they dream of. One major barrier to that is that you can’t really do imperialism without racism, you can’t do an occupation without contempt for the occupied, and when those Iraqis who do vote in the elections and don’t see them as a hollow sham start demanding what is theirs by right – freedom, democracy, control of the country’s future – the US will not deliver it. Instead, the US will make every effort to create, exacerbate, and use those divisions – including ‘black ops’, death squads, assassinations…

If these elections get the US occupation any legitimacy with the Shia, they will be a big success for the US and they will buy the US time. Time is on the side of the US in several ways. The most obvious way is the one that the US keeps threatening: the longer the US is there, the more likely a civil war becomes. If the US starts organizing militias made up of Kurds or Shia for use against the Sunni resistance and the Sunni civilian population, that will make such civil war far more likely. Civil war would be a gift to the US – an excuse to stay indefinitely, seize what they want to seize, withdraw behind their bases, and let the natives slaughter each other.

So, while I agree with most that the elections are a sham, they are more than just a sham. They are a part of the US strategy. US strategy made the mess, US strategy exacerbates the mess with each passing day, US strategy cannot fix the mess, and so I hope the US strategy fails.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

2 thoughts on “The Iraq Election”

  1. Hey justin in other words
    Hey justin in other words what you are saying is that the U.S should incite a civil war in Iraq and then pull out, then again you want the U.S strategies to fail. I dont mean to be impertinent here, but what the hell are you realy saying? Iraq is in a boomerang right now and the people are going to continue fighting long after the U.S pulls out, but if they can do anything at the moment to prevent this future catastrophy,it’d be a nice thing to do.Now i’m not favoring the war by any means, but a problem at hand is a problem at hand and the earlier a solution is sought, the better.

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