Monday, April 18, 2005

Candorville Can't Subtract

This week's Candorville series contains a typo.Corrections were sent out to newspapers, but who knows whether they got them in time. I know didn't. OK, it's not exactly a typo so much as it is bad math. Mr. Nixton, a loyal Republican character who's been in a coma since the Carter administration, wakes up to find the country a very different place. Unfortunately, instead of writing he'd been in a coma for 26 years, I said he'd been under for 36. Sometimes I wonder how I made it all the way through AP Calculus...

Monday, April 11, 2005

US subverting Democracy in Iraq?

Ironically, it seems possible that if "freedom" and "democracy" do take root in Iraq, it may be in spite of our efforts, not because of them.

From the London Independent:

"When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, they expected there would be a quick handover to carefully selected allies in a secular government that would be the opposite of Iran's theocracy, and perhaps even a counterfoil to Iran's regional aspirations. It is one of the greatest ironies of the US intervention that the Iraqi people instead used their first voting opportunity to elect a government with a strong religious base, and indeed with close links to the Islamic republic on their border. The US, having destroyed the sole major secular government in the region, is now at risk of replacing it with a theocratic regime."...

...Time magazine (27 September 2004) reported before the elections on a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favoured by Washington. It reported US officials as saying that the idea was to help such candidates, but "not necessarily" to go so far as to rig the elections. In the event, the United Iraqi Alliance of mainly Shia Islamist parties won only 48 per cent of the total vote, well below their share of the population. Interestingly, Reuters (13 February) reported a few hours before the election results were officially announced that "the United Iraqi Alliance said today it had been told by Iraq's Electoral Commission that it had won around 60 per cent of the vote in the country's election". This was later confirmed by the former US chief Unscom weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, who announced to a packed meeting in Washington state on 19 February that the United Iraqi Alliance actually gained 56 per cent of the vote, and that "an official involved in the manipulation was the source"...

...The significance of this voting manoeuvre is revealed in a Washington Post report (14 February): "A senior State Department official said yesterday that the 48 per cent vote won by the Shia slate deprives it of an outright majority. 'If it had been higher, the slate would be seen with a lot more trepidation'."

That our leadership would allegedly rig an election to achieve a desired outcome should come as no surprise to those who remember the voting "irregularities" in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. However, in case influencing the outcome of the election isn't enough, the US may have a plan B:

There is already evidence of a strong movement in southern Iraq to establish autonomous Shia provinces as a precursor to introducing clerical rule in the whole country.

To forestall a clerical-driven religious regime, Washington has a plan in reserve, according to Asia Times (15 February), to arm small militias backed by US troops.
These militias would be comprised of members of Saddam Hussein's (some would say Fascist) Baath Party.