King Abdullah (!) on prospects for Iraqi elections

The BBC and other news media are giving much prominence to the views Jordan’s King Abdullah has expressed regarding the prospects of holding timely elections in Iraq.
Excuse me?
Since when did that Hashemite monarch become recognized as any kind of an expert on democracy or democratization?
According to this page on, Jordan has a “3” listing in Freedom House’s annual assessment of the state of its civil and political liberties (on a scale of 7 = bad through 1 = good). And the “democratic institutions rating” it gets from the Polity IV project is -2.0 (on a scale of +10 = good through -10 = bad).
I must admit I’ve become rather fond of Nationmaster’s funky, well-presented combinations of international listings, facts, and factoids.
The question of the prospects for Iraqi elections is, of course, not a game at all.
There are a number of quite mind-boggling features of the current international discussion over this issue. One is the rampant disarray within the Bush administration on the topic— with Rumsfeld quite blithely contradicting all the confidence that Colin Powell and his people are expressing the ability of the Iraqis to hold the election before the January 31 deadline.
Another is that Powell looks as though he’s aiming at painting Kofi Annan into being “the bad guy”, whose “pessimism” and “foot-dragging” will be blamed for any ultimate failure of the elections to be held on time.
Not fair! How on earth can Kofi’s people get in there and do what needs to be done to help organize a free and fair election if the US military carries on rambo-ing around the whole country generally escalating tensions and making trouble?
In addition, there are many respects in which what is said by cabinet members and other administration flacks in Washington has come to bear almost no relationship at all to the actual situation on the ground in Iraq

The major case in point there is the Prez, last week running around DC with his little Mini-me (a.k.a. Iyad Allawi) spouting truly Polly-annaish nonsense about how peachy everything is inside Iraq.
Powell at least is prepared to admit in public that things are not good, and have even been getting worse recently. But then, he bends himself into rhetorical/ logical knots by trying to claim that this just “proves” that things are actually getting better because it’s a sign the “dead-enders” are just desperately trying to disrupt the onward march of the election process.
I find all this lying and spinning on issues of life and death in Iraq deeply disturbing. Particularly because all the most recent polls seem to indicate that Bush is looking pretty good for re-election in 5 weeks time… It looks as though lots of US voters really like the “upbeat” and “resolute” image the Prez projects, regardless of the fact that many of these exact same voters who say they’ll vote for him also kind of know that he’s spinning and/or lying through his teeth most of the time regarding what’s really going on in Iraq.
That’s the truly depressing part: figuring out what this all means about the intelligence and ethics of my fellow-Americans…
Yeah, I know it would be a lot better if Kerry were more convincing as a communicator, in general. But he is what he is. He dug himself into a couple of deep holes along the way, on the Iraq issue–as when he voted for the war-enabling resolution in the first place, in 2002, and then when he said six weeks ago that even knowing what he then knew, he thought the decision to go to war had been correct… Now, it looks as though he may be trying hard to dig himself out of those holes. But it ain’t going to be easy.
(Maybe I’d better stop blogging here before I make myself even more depressed.)

6 thoughts on “King Abdullah (!) on prospects for Iraqi elections”

  1. I read that report earlier this morning and,like you, was a bit non-plussed. Abdullah is urging the re-forming of the Ba’athist army, the article says. It’s not clear that Chirac thinks this a great solution to the current chaotic situation, but something is going on there. What is clear is that this sort of news report just does not make it into the American news stream.
    What does get airing are things like I heard last night on NPR. Juan Cole and Fareed Zakaria were each given about 45 seconds to attempt to give cogent replies to a question about who’s right, the side that says Iraq is swell or the side who says Iraq is hell. Like Cole said, the question is wrong. He talked about living in Lebanon during the civil war there and how life goes on but people keep getting killed in the course of just trying to live their daily lives.
    Then, this morning, I read David Brooks’ piece in the NYT. He is saying that having elections will bust the insurgency, just as it did in El Salvador. Because “democracy is a sturdy truck” not a “luxury Lexus”. The trope is used to make the now standard neocon argument that “Arabs deserve democracy, too!” which is supposed to be proof that those who are criticizing Bush’s foreign policy are denying the possibility of democracy in the Middle East.
    BTW, did you hear Ken Adelman tell Gwen Ifill on Newshour last week that Iraq is the only free country of the 22 member Arab League? All the rest are “illegitimate”, he said.

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