19 January 2004

Status of Farces

Bremer's trips to Washington are developing into a record of disaster. Adnan Pachachi seems to be joining the circus.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Pachachi said there could be changes in the selection of the members of the organizing committees, in the nomination of people to the caucuses, and in the selection process for delegates within the caucus.

One idea under discussion would be to stick with the caucus approach ? although with a broadened membership ? but to hold a popular vote on the representatives chosen in each governorate.

If the slate was rejected, then the caucus would have to choose a new group.

Another option would to allow a three-week period of popular consideration of the delegates chosen by the caucus and if there was a movement against any members, then the caucus would have to vote a new slate.

This is idiocy, pure and simple. If a popular vote can be held, then why not a free and direct election? So are we to assume that the US is engaged in idiocy or are we to assume some other motive for the desperate drive to transfer sovereignty to an unelected government?

The truth, as blogged below, is that the technical issues would only require postponement to September, that Bremer failed to tell this to the IGC before persuading them to sign up to the November agreement, and that IGC members are on record as saying the possibility of a September electoral roll would have made a difference to their decision.

The other item on the CPA agenda is an agreement, by March, on the future of US forces in Iraq. According to Jonathon Steele:

The other new element in the US plan was that power would be transferred to the new government at the end of June. This would allow Bush to claim mission accomplished. Barely a year after the invasion, Iraqis would have a legitimate government at last. It would invite US troops to stay, but these could gradually be reduced in number or pulled back to bases in Iraq, as new Iraqi security forces were built up. US casualties would fall, the invasion would have been legitimised, and Messrs Dean and Clark would have to shut up.

Now the whole thing is in ruins. Ayatollah Sistani refuses to drop his opposition, and people were out on the street in Basra last week to support his line. Protests may spread to other Shia cities. The latest allegations of US and British torture of detainees will only inflame passions. Worst of all for Washington, Sistani has made it clear that no government which is undemocratically appointed will have the right to ask American troops to stay.

My guess is that March agreement, when and if we see it will commit any future Iraqi government, elected or unelected, to accepting the occupation into the longterm future. I seriously suspect any IGC member on record as consenting to that limit on Iraqi sovereignty will find that smoke and mirrors do not go over well when and if a free and fair election is ever held.

This is a long way from the highminded rhetoric of democratising the entire Middle East. But then that's what happens when moral clarity and the forward strategy of freedom are only a smoke screen for electoral clarity.

No comments: