Across the Bay

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Young on Iraqi Elections

Michael Young writes on the Iraqi elections in today's Daily Star, and echoes some of the points I raised in my previous post ("Iraqi Sunnis and the Lebanon Model"):

    Legitimacy will also be drawn from the fact that
    governing institutions, regardless of how many
    people approved of them or not, tend to develop a
    credibility over time that confounds those focusing on
    the fine print. The new Iraqi parliament will write a
    constitution, name a new government and prepare for
    elections next December. Over time, self-
    marginalized groups will see the escalating dangers
    of remaining outside the game. Indeed, some Sunni
    representatives have already expressed such fears.
    The Sunni dread of falling afoul of the insurgents will
    hit up against a realization that the community should
    avoid deleting itself from Iraq's future.

Furthermore, Young, in what can be dubbed a political credo of sorts, hands it to finicky Arab liberals and pseudo-liberals (and Western Leftists):

    What happens this Sunday will be a test for Iraq and
    the U.S., but it will also be a test for those Arab
    liberals who cannot find a nice thing to say about the
    American presence in Iraq. The elections are not
    about the Bush administration and its
    neoconservatives, or about American neo-imperialism
    -- to apply the catchphrases of the day; they are
    about whether an Arab society can engage in a more
    or less democratic endeavor against the will of a
    hardened minority of cutthroats playing off Sunni
    fears, and against the preferences of the autocratic
    regimes that pullulate in the Middle East.  Unless
    Arab liberals grasp this straightforward reality, they
    will continue to miss the point in Iraq and, worse,
    remain utterly irrelevant in their own struggles
    against homegrown despots. Many have made the
    issue the U.S., when it has always been about how
    Iraqi Arabs and Kurds could exploit inside and outside
    pressures to improve their foul situation. Most Iraqis
    have no intention of becoming Washington's puppets,
    but unlike a majority of the diffident liberals in Arab
    societies, early on they realized they could use
    American power to their advantage without
    succumbing to it.

Amen. Now you understand why I find the framing of the debate in the US in terms of how one feels about Bush so irrelevant.

Addendum: Wretchard touches on the internal debate in the US in this very interesting post.