Friday, February 06, 2009

Iraqi Election Results Rolling In

As expected, al-Maliki’s party has won big, thanks to the perception that his government has been able to bring stability to the troubled nation. The Times writes:
A coalition headed by Mr al-Maliki had landslide wins in Baghdad and Basra, the country’s two most important provinces. His State of Law coalition also came out on top in seven other predominately Shia provinces in southern Iraq, beating the rival Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI) in a triumph for secular politics over religious groups.

Preliminary results, issued yesterday, indicate a drastic shift in the political map nationwide, with Sunni Arabs securing a better representation after boycotting the last polls four years ago in protest at the US-led occupation
.”
As to the earlier report, which claimed the parties associated with the Anbar Awakening alleged the Iraqi Islamist Party had tampered with election results, and that they would return to arms if the party was awarded a victory. CNN reports that the IIP has come in third behind the Awakening party and non-sectarian Saleh al-Mutlaq.
The list headed by Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq sneaked in with 17.6 percent of the vote. It edged out the Awakening movement, which received 17.1 percent , and the powerful Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party, which got 15.9 percent.”
Gordon at Harry’s Place adds:
The win is good news after some doubted his ability to crackdown on the militants. It is also a blow to Iran as well as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is close to the Iranians, did not win a single province having previously controlled much of southern Iraq for the last four years.”
The end of the road it is not, but a very positive step forward for Iraq. Not because another election has now been added to the nation’s history books, but because the positive changes in the country, the moving away from theocrats and rank sectarians is now making its mark within the societies democratic outlook. Let’s hope it continues.

4 comments:

Parvus said...

Looks like all the leftards and conservative "realists" who insisted that Iraq was not "ready" for democracy, and who attacked the Bush administration for daring to think it was, are going to be proven wrong--at least if things keep going the way they have been for the past year or so.

But will they learn anything from this? Hah!

Should things continue to go well, Bush will one day be rehabilitated a la Truman. I personally can't wait for the day.

Roland Dodds said...

Parvus,

I recently engaged in a discussion with some “realist” minded individuals at the League of Ordinary Gentleman (a great site by the way), and I made the following case about democracy being intrinsic to a specific culture.

Imposing democratic “values” may sound like a new and foreign exercise, but it is not, and there are successes to the policy even though it wasn’t referred to as democratic promotion at the time. Japan and Taiwan are clear example of this, but South Korea is an even better case. South Korea at the start of the 50s was poorer than Ghana (Ethiopia sent some of its citizens to help the struggling country, which goes to show how things have changed), and was an almost completely rural Confucian society, one that shared very little with the west and the democratic institutions that grew out of it. The US generally did not have the intention of making Korea a democratic alternative to the north when the war began, and the country lapsed into military rule more than once. Yet, with the continued support and protection provided by the American military, as well as the transformation of the society, Korea now stands as one of the most remarkable examples of how quickly traditional culture and superstition can be subverted.

Does Korea look or sound like America (and I mean in the political sense)? Not really. But few could see Korea as anything but a remarkable transformation, brought upon by the continued aid and support of a unipolar power.

Not long ago, it was an accepted rule among the IR community that the Catholic Southern European states could never have democratic societies; the institutions were simply too foreign to those cultures many reputable men claimed. The same was then said of Confucian societies. Then it was Eastern European states that were too connected to the Orthodox Church and superstition. So I am a bit skeptical when I am told that the Muslim lands are antithetical to democracy. In fact, I find that historical evidence is counter to your claim, I turn to a recent Fouad Ajami piece: “In 15 of the 29 democratic countries in 1970, democratic regimes were midwifed by foreign rule or had come into being right after independence from foreign occupation. In the ebb and flow of liberty, power always mattered, and liberty needed the protection of great powers.”

This is not to say that democracy promotion will always produce positive results, but seeing success in the recent election should help put to rest the idea that these ideas are completely foreign a populace, and I hope Iraq continues down this path.

Parvus said...

Well said, Roland. It was also once common to hear that Latin Americans were not culturally able to support democracy. Then the third wave of democratization occurred--thanks in part to the efforts of the Carter and Reagan administrations--in the 1970s and 80s and proved the far leftists and realists wrong yet again.

While there may be many different means to achieve it, liberal democracy as an end remains the key.

Roland Dodds said...

"While there may be many different means to achieve it, liberal democracy as an end remains the key."

True, and even if we all disagree on the methods of producing such regimes, I hope that we can support those fighting to make such governments possible, like seculars in Iraq.