Attention, Pentagon men: Are you having trouble maintaining your elections?
Man, the pressure on us Americans is getting unbearable. Imperialism is hard work. I mean, we’ve got our own elections coming up in a few weeks, but the rest of the world just won’t leave us alone. Like Jonathan Street, a Bush Beat reader in Buenos Aires, who writes:
Do you have any idea who in the fuck the Iraqis are supposed to vote for come January? Allawi: yes/no, or what? Who are the candidates in this deal, if any? I would love some help in trying to understand this magic democracy that is supposed to have appeared in the last year. According to Rumsfeld, the elections will go ahead in the parts of the country that are secure, but I didn’t know that American soldiers in the Green Zone were allowed to vote.
Well, I’m pretty sure that American soldiers will be too busy either killing or getting killed to be able to go to the polls in Iraq.
As for Iraq’s prime minister, Ayad Allawi, well, the Bush regime just paraded him before Congress yesterday as a prop for the U.S. elections, and he won Best in Show. The New York Times ran a front-page picture of him actually exchanging kisses with members of Congress. The Washington Post‘s headline writers described him as “Iraq’s Dynamo,” a guy with a “can-do aura,” but the story itself, by Lynne Duke, was considerably more shrewd.
Gee, Allawi is so kissy-face with Bush and Congress, I wonder how the Iraqis feel about him? (You’ll find out if you keep reading.)
To start, why don’t we see what Iraqi newspapers have to say about their upcoming election. If they’re like U.S. papers, they’ll be full of campaign bullshit. I’m an American, so I don’t speak that there Iraqese. I’ll have to rely on the Institute for War & Peace Reporting’s Iraq Press Monitor. Let’s see . . . kidnappings . . . attacks on mosques . . . ah, here’s an election story. The daily Al-Sabah‘s September 12 editorial says:
I hope that members of the interim National Assembly work on the basis that they hold their posts temporarily until January 31. I also hope they remember they are entrusted with keeping the country’s election schedule on track. They should not make the possibility of their own electoral victory or loss the basis on which to shape their stands. The government and all other political powers are responsible for the political process, but the National Assembly’s share of responsibility is the largest.
But who the hell is running for president or whatever?! It doesn’t say. The U.S. installed former CIA stooge Allawi as the interim prime minister. He’s supposed to guide Iraq through these January elections, which will set up a “transitional” government, which will then, according to this BBC overview, “draw up a new constitution for the holding of full elections by the end of 2005.”
A sizable number of Iraqis want a “strongman” to stabilize the country before the January elections are even held, according to polling by Oxford Research International and the BBC.
So that would be Allawi, right? Wrong. The meticulous June 2004 Oxford/BBC poll asked Iraqis, “Which national leader in Iraq, if any, do you trust the most?” Only 14 persons got more than 0.2 percent, and Allawi wasn’t one of them. Muqtada al-Sadr, however, was fourth, and a guy named Saddam Hussein was 10th. Hussein dug himself into a little hole last year and is currently unavailable. As for Muqtada, well, there’s a slight problem. One of American pasha L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer‘s last acts before “turning over” Iraq to the puppet Allawi regime was to ban Muqtada from the elections—even if Muqtada immediately disbanded his militia.
Bremer’s reign was disastrous anyway. See, he appointed U.S. stooge Ahmed Chalabi‘s son, Salem Chalabi, as head of the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein. Salem Chalabi, however, is now suspected of assassination plots against officials in the new Iraq finance ministry. Previously, Salem Chalabi, a former Princetonian and Yalie, set up a consulting business to help broker oil deals in the “new” Iraq. And the consulting business was using the offices of the international law firm Zell Goldberg, whose senior partner is Marc Zell, a fervent West Bank settler who also is head of the Israel chapter of Republicans Abroad, which is frantically getting out the expatriate vote worldwide to re-elect the Bush regime.
If you don’t believe me, read this fascinating account by Judy Lash Balint in the September 14 installment of her Jerusalem Diaries about a campaign appearance by Zell on behalf of Bush in Israel and the importance of overseas votes for the U.S. presidential race.
Zell’s former law partner is Doug Feith (the two of them lobbied on behalf of defense contractors). Feith is the prominent Pentagon neocon who wants to overthrow Iran next, but Dick Cheney‘s Halliburton is still doing business with Iran even though that apparent violation of U.S. sanctions is under investigation, and one of Feith’s aides, Larry Franklin, is also under investigation after being accused of spying for Israel by leaking Pentagon memos on Iran, so Feith has to concentrate on Iraq, but it’s hard to concentrate because he takes kids from his son’s private school in D.C. on a tour of the Pentagon (and Rumsfeld‘s private office) on the very day the Abu Ghraib scandal is breaking, and everyone wants to talk to Feith because he set the policy on handling prisoners in Iraq, but Feith had already banned discussion of Abu Ghraib even within the Pentagon, but the school kids he’ll take to the Pentagon because Feith used to be president of the school, which got money from Bush supporter Joe Allbritton, who was at the time (until this summer, in fact) a bank partner of Dubya’s uncle Jonathan Bush and whose Allbritton-owned Riggs National Bank sheltered oil money from Equatorial Guinea dictator Teodoro Obiang, whose brother tortured prisoners with stinging ants and bought a house in Virginia after Allbritton’s bank called him a “valued customer,” but that house wasn’t as nice as the mansion Obiang himself bought in Maryland—wait, this is getting out of hand. I told you imperialism is hard work. It’s complicated too.
We’ll get back to Allawi, I promise. But one of the most entertaining recent stories about Zell, Feith, Bremer, the Chalabis, Iraq, Israel, and U.S. defense contractors—whew!—is this Haaretz piece, “Theater of the Absurd,” by Zvi Bar’el.
Absurd is the word for Bremer’s reign of error in Iraq. He shut down Muqtada al-Sadr’s newspaper in April, an act that did nothing but inflame a bad situation. As for Bremer’s last stupid act regarding Muqtada—banning him from holding office even if he disbanded his huge militia—see this Guardian story.
Bremer banned all members of militias from running for office. The problem is, Iraq is nothing but militias these days.
Well, then, whom do the Iraqis distrust the most? Back to the Oxford/BBC poll for that answer. And that would be Ahmed Chalabi, the runaway leader in more ways than one. Of the Iraqis who mentioned someone whom they distrust, he got 42.1 percent of the vote, far outdistancing second-place finisher Saddam Hussein.
Now think about it for a moment. Ahmed Chalabi is the former CIA stooge who was used by the Bush regime to justify our unjust invasion of Iraq. He’s the guy whose lying prattle was the source for New York Times reporter Judith Miller‘s WMD scare stories that helped convince many Americans to support the Iraq invasion. Even the U.S. government has finally disowned him—except for a hard core of neocons.
The Bush regime and Congress financed this guy, and you American taxpayers footed the bill. Isn’t he an issue in our elections as well?
Oh, I forgot. We’re supposed to be talking about Iraq’s elections. What about Ayad Allawi? We’ve already said that he didn’t even appear on the list of leaders whom Iraqis trust. Of the leaders they distrust, he finished a strong sixth.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2004