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Serving the Kool-Aid

Watching and reading Republican responses about the upcoming Iraqi election, I’ve been disturbed by some of the attitudes. I mean, I can understand the hope and good wishes conservatives have for the election. But there is a difference between hope for the best and denial of the worst. There is also a difference between that same hope and the refusal to see a problem.

I would give anything to see these elections go off well, to sit back in six months and laugh at how seriously I took the dangers. But that doesn’t mean convincing myself of something that’s not the case.

Everytime somebody speaks of these elections going of without a hitch, I feel depressed. It's not that the notion of those things happening is unpleasant to me. By no means. What depresses me is my gut instinct that this time will be no different than any other time that Bush has expected things to go our way on their own.

The habit of this administration has been to go for moral victories while expecting the combat victories to go their way because of it. Nothing we have seen supports the effectiveness of that position. The "desperate" insurgents on their "last legs" have outlasted many "turning points" as the Bush administration has labelled them.

The real questions are: Whether the Iraqi and American forces can prevent the elections from turning into a massacre, having failed to protect Iraqis over the last few years; whether Iraqis will turn out in Sunday's election in enough numbers to justify the stubborn refusal to postpone elections despite security issues; whether Iraqis across the board will treat the election as a decisive victory for America's political conversion of the country; whether the violence will diminish from the picture as a result of the election.

All depends on whether this election can forth in an orderly fashion, and whether the Iraqi people, in general, treat this as a meaningful turn of events. It's fine to have Americans care about these elections, but it's not our problem, it's theirs, and if they don't show up, we can't show up for them, however enthusiastically we support elections. Our support is nice. Theirs however is critical.

If violence does mar the election, blaming the media for covering that violence will be in decidedly poor taste. The election itself is not the object- the creation of an orderly lawful democracy is. That was the issue of the date: Do we have a stable enough country to support an election, and to make sure those not in power don't resort to extra-legal means to make themselves heard?

This election in Iraq is not about the fears and anxieties of Americans about the election versus the hope and faith of other Americans in that event, it is about the forces of law and order in Iraq versus the forces of chaos and lawlessness. If these elections are disrupted sufficiently, we may have shown how stubbornly macho we are in our responses to the insurgents, but we will have lost the battle there to create an orderly, working, and democratic state in Iraq. If we do not do the groundwork and provide the manpower to keep the peace in Iraq, no number of attempts to hold elections will do any good.

So far, the administration has done a very sloppy job of dealing with our foreign and military policies. They have been caught unprepared on multiple occasions. It is not the soldier on the field or the Iraqi glad to be free of Saddam that makes me as pessimistic about this war as I am, but the Bush administration. That impression, however, has depended strongly on the evidence or lack of evidence of the executive branch's leadership. I really hope they've gotten their crap together on this effort, because I am sick and tired of their disappointing behavior.

Bush and the Republicans have been all too willing to make excuses for themselves for the sake of ideology, and because of that much more now rides on this election than the mere formality of confirming the will of the Iraqi people. What happens Sunday may be a reality check nobody wishes to see, but it will not be a reality check unexpected by those who really have kept track of the Bush record on this war.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 28, 2005 8:38 AM