IRAQI ELECTION, A SAD COMEDY
Dr. Alexander R. Dawoody
Professor of Middle Eastern History
Western Michigan University
Battle Creek, MI 49016
A fundamental issue in the US Constitution is that only citizens of the US are allowed to vote or run for public office. There is no mention of political parties required to run or vote for a public office. Indeed, there is no mention of political parties at all in the US Constitution.
In order to vote in the United States, the Constitution requires an environment that is free and safe. This is to assure transparency, accountability, and fairness. Otherwise, the voting process is considered to be illegitimate and undemocratic.
Imagine a scenario where things are different, yet still being portrayed as democratic. Imagine that instead of "citizens" running for public office, there are political parties running for office. Voters are asked to choose among parties or coalitions of political parties without knowing what each party or coalition represents or who it is led by. Then after the votes are cast, the winning party or coalition's leaders decide who is going to be the President of the country and who will be members of Congress.
Imagine that a religious leader in the United States issues a decree asking American voters to vote for a certain political group or they will end up in Hell in the after-life. Other religious leaders, however, ask the same American voters not to vote or they will end up in Hell as well.
Let us also imagine that this situation is prevalent while America is under a foreign occupation. This occupation began two years ago when America was invaded by a foreign power that did not like the US government and falsely accused it of being a threat to world peace. During those two years under occupation, America's system of government and Armed Forces were dismantled, electric and water supplies were destroyed, millions of Americans were forced to unemployed, many were tortured while detained in prison, and nearly 200,000 civilians were killed. Yet, only handful of Americans who were living abroad were brought home, housed in luxurious palaces, assigned huge salaries, and appointed as America's new leaders.
In order to make the occupation appear legitimate, the occupiers decided to hold elections in America. Ordinary citizens, however, were not allowed to run for public office. Instead, political groups supportive of the occupation were allowed to run. The occupiers then issued a law to design the mechanism of these elections.
The mechanism, however, relaxed the process of verifying voters' identification. Many foreigners began to arrive to the United States with false documentations in order to vote. Even Americans who had migrated to other countries in the past and had become citizens of those countries were allowed to vote.
When it becomes time to choose America's new Congress and President, there is no independent agency to monitor the voting process. As a result, many ballot boxes are missing, tampered with, or filled with false ballots by election officials.
At the same time, there is an ongoing insurgency taking place against the occupation. Many Americans are supportive of this insurgency and regard it as a means of national liberation. Because of this sentiment, many Americans refuse to take part in any election while their country still is under occupation.
Imagine that a few foreign terrorists manage to sneak into the United States because the occupiers fail to secure America's borders. These terrorists are responsible for daily violent killings, car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings on America's streets. This atmosphere forces many Americans to stay home and to not to go out and vote.
Taking into account all these factors, would you consider an election under such circumstances democratic? I do not think so. Yet, this was the situation in Iraq in January 2005 when Iraqis were asked by their occupiers to vote for a National Assembly that will write Iraq's new constitution and form its new government.
Some Iraqis, however, participated in these elections. Some did so because their religious leaders, such as Ayatollah Sistani (an Iranian who is living in Iraq) threatened them to vote, or end up in Hell. Others did so because they wanted to be part of an electoral process that had been absent from Iraq's political life. Some participated because of nationalistic sentiments. The majority, however, refused to participate in an election that was deceptive and dishonest from the start, orchestrated by the occupying power and designed solely to serve that occupier's interest. Such staged elections are the occupation's last hope in justifying its legitimacy.
As the occupation had planned, the same discredited Iraqi puppets that arrived in Iraq with the occupation had won the January 2005 elections. What were once considered to be appointed stooges are now presenting themselves as the "democratically elected" leaders of Iraq.
In early 2003, Paul Bremer, the former US administrator of Iraq, wanted to measure the electability of his appointees in the so-called "Iraqi Governing Council." So, he hired a firm to survey the Iraqi people and assess the electability of these individuals. The results were astonishing. None of them was able to secure more than 2% of the votes. Because of that, Bremer realized that these individuals had no chance of winning in a free election. A special plan was needed in order to help these individuals claim political power in Iraq through "orchestrated elections."
Bremer designed the mechanism for these orchestrated elections with Order 96 in 2003. The theatrical elections then took place in January 2005 according to Bremer's ruling, packaged in the false façade of democracy.
These episodes, however, made a mockery of democracy, manipulating the Iraqi people's yearning for freedom, and deceptively bringing forth the same puppets in Bremer's former Iraqi Governing Council, ready to govern Iraq, legitimize the occupation, and surrender what was left of Iraq's sovereignty in the name of a democratic Iraq. This indeed is a tragedy in the making and a sad comedy.