Waddya know and whaddya think you know?
In addition to expressing my patriotism by buying useless trifles for the family, I spent my Godless Secular HolidaysÃ¢â€žÂ¢ reading analyses of what the recent elections in Iraq really meant.
The Wall Street Journal editors said that the "Iraqis [sent] Jack Murtha and Howard Dean a message" with their vote. They added: "the most eloquent rebuttal to American defeatists came from the millions of Iraqis who voted Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ They are now practicing the democracy that the U.S. promised." Victor Davis Hanson asked "Why still no big-font, front-page headlines screaming, 'Millions Vote in Historic Middle East Election!' or 'Democracy Comes At Last To Iraq' or 'America's Push for Iraqi Democracy Working,'" and concluded that the only possible explanation was the dominant "politics of gloom."
Closer to the reality-based community, Robert Dreyfuss wrote "The last hope for peace in Iraq was stomped to death" during the elections, and that meant it was "game over." And my colleague David Lublin argued that the elections didn't represent democracy, but were rather an "ethnic census."
Then, on Monday, I got my chance. I did Pedro Gato's delightfully rambling radio show on Austin's KOOP and Gato asked me what the recent elections in Iraq meant for the future of the country. I gave him an answer that I wish was more common among the chattering class: I told him I didn't know.
Of course, I analyzed what the elections appeared to signify: a rejection by the Sunnis of a government formed under the program of deep de-Baathification for which the U.S. has fought -- and the election process more largely -- and that the big winner of the U.S.' GWOT seems to be Iran.
But I couldn't know what the significance of the elections were because I - like all those others -- don't know what really happened in Iraq on the 15th.
What I do know is there have been over a thousand complaints filed with Iraq's Electoral Commission, and that election monitors have documented "widespread intimidation by security forces affiliated with one group or another." I know those militias are playing an ever-greater role in the new Iraq, and that tens of thousands have taken to the streets believing the elections were rigged. I know that Sunnis who were in the Baath Party are being purged from winning slates, and that the violence isn't going to let up anytime soon. I know Iyad Allawi's secular Shiite party was among those who rejected the election results, and Sheikh Khalaf al-Alyan of the Sunni National Dialogue Council threatened to launch a civil war if the complaints aren't addressed.
We'll have to wait and see before saying what Iraq's elections really meant. The official results won't be available until after the New Year, and the Electoral Commission says it's going to investigate the complaints before certifying anything. Until then, we'll hear a lot about what those elections really meant, and all of it will be nothing more than a reflection of various authors' ideological predispositions.