Monday, January 18, 2010

The Surge Worked? Then Why Are Candidates Being Banned From Elections?


Many Americans, not having to deal with the mayhem that will likely ensue the departure of the American military from Iraq, are too quick to say, "The surge worked." We have no idea whether it will have worked until we leave. Current signs indicate that not much has changed in Iraq. Not only may the surge not have worked, but it bears wondering whether Iraq would have been in a much better situation had the United States not been so ensconced in the last seven years of its history.

First Paul Bremer made the mistake of disbanding the Iraqi army and banning from government employment anyone who had ever belonged to the Baath party. Having "learned well" from its American overlords, the party of Nuri al-Maliki recently used the same rationale for removing approximately 500 candidates from the ballots for the upcoming March election.
Iraqi officials have done little to clarify who, exactly, has been disqualified from running for Parliament in March because of ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. ...it remained unclear how many candidates out of more than 6,000 who have registered would be excluded — and which ones had been [removed].

On Thursday, Iraq’s election commission announced that 499 were disqualified, but it postponed the publication of a list on Sunday, saying that still more names would be added Monday.

Far from dissipating, the political turmoil caused by the accountability commission only worsened over the weekend.

A government is certainly free to establish qualifications that candidates must possess before they can seek elective office, but the lack of transparency so close to the election makes it appear that the decisions on whom to disqualify are extremely arbitrary.  And it is certainly unhealthy for the Iraq Prime Minister to threaten anyone who disagrees with the process:
Maliki said in a statement that the commission's rulings must be respected "without exception" and cautioned against "the politicization" of a process intended to weed out former supporters of the outlawed Baath Party, which ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
 Unrest has increased markedly since the decision.
The disqualification of so many candidates threatened to undermine a national election that has widely been cast as another test of Iraq’s nascent democracy. According to many lawmakers and experts, Iraq appears to be failing, raising fears of violence rather than political reconciliation as American troops steadily withdraw, nearly seven years after the American-led invasion that toppled Mr. Hussein.

Ironically, after having established what it terms "democracy" in Iraq, the United States, along with the United Nations, has weighed in against the disqualifications, a move that is seen as far from friendly by the Iraqis.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Lami’s commission accused the United Nations of interfering in Iraq. The United Nations, with the United States, has lobbied against the disqualifications.

Could it have been this bad still if America had just minded its own business in the first place?  I'm afraid that when the history books are updated in a decade or so, we'll find that the surge only worked in regards to causing greater chaos in Iraq than existed before.