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Democracy in Iraq

Sami Ramadani

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Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow of occupation. Whatever the parliamentarians in Iraq do to try to prevent total meltdown, their efforts are compromised by the fact that their power grows from the barrel of someone else's gun. When George Bush picked up the phone last week to urge the negotiators to sign the constitution, he reminded Iraqis that their representatives - though elected - remain the administrators of his protectorate. While US and British troops stay in Iraq, no government there can make an undisputed claim to legitimacy. Nothing can be resolved in that country until our armies leave.

This is by no means the only problem confronting the people who drafted Iraq's constitution. The refusal by the Shias and the Kurds to make serious compromises on federalism, which threatens to deprive the central, Sunni-dominated areas of oil revenues, leaves the Sunnis with little choice but to reject the agreement in October's referendum. The result could be civil war.

Can anything be done? It might be too late. But it seems to me that the transitional assembly has one last throw of the dice. This is to abandon the constitution it has signed, and Bush's self-serving timetable, and start again with a different democratic design.

The problem with the way the constitution was produced is the problem afflicting almost all the world's democratic processes. The deliberations were back to front. First the members of the constitutional committee, shut inside the green zone, argue over every dot and comma; then they present the whole thing (25 pages in English translation) to the people for a yes or no answer. The question and the answer are meaningless.

All politically conscious people, having particular interests and knowing that perfection in politics is impossible, will, on reading a complex document like this, see that it is good in some places and bad in others. They might recognise some articles as being bad for them but good for society as a whole; they might recognise others as being good or bad for almost everyone. What then does yes or no mean?

Let me be more precise. How, for example, could anyone agree with both these statements, from articles 2 and 19 respectively? "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation: no law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." (In other words, the supreme authority in law is God.) "The judiciary is independent, with no power above it other than the law."

Or both these, from articles 14 and 148? "Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ethnicity, nationality, origin, colour, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status"; "Members of the presidential council must ... have left the dissolved party [the Ba'ath] at least 10 years before its fall if they were members in it."

Faced with such contradictions, no thoughtful elector can wholly endorse or reject this document. Of course, this impossible choice is what we would have confronted (but at 10 times the length and a hundred times the complexity) had we been asked to vote on the European constitution. The yes or no question put to us would have been just as stupid, and just as just as stupefying. It treats us like idiots and - because we cannot refine our responses - reduces us to idiots. But while it would have merely enhanced our sense of alienation from the European project, for the Iraqis the meaninglessness of the question could be a matter of life and death. If there is not a widespread sense of public ownership of the country's political processes, and a widespread sense that political differences can be meaningfully resolved by democratic means, this empowers those who seek to resolve them otherwise.

Last week George Bush, echoed on these pages by Bill Clinton's former intelligence adviser Philip Bobbitt, compared the drafting process in Baghdad to the construction of the American constitution. If they believe that the comparison commends itself to the people of Iraq, they are plainly even more out of touch than I thought. But it should also be obvious that we now live in more sceptical times. When the US constitution was drafted, representative democracy was a radical and thrilling idea. Now it is an object of suspicion and even contempt, as people all over the world recognise that it allows us to change the management but not the firm. And one of the factors that have done most to engender public scepticism is the meaninglessness of the only questions we are ever asked. I read Labour's manifesto before the last election and found good and bad in it. But whether I voted for or against, I had no means to explain what I liked and what I didn't.

Does it require much imagination to see the link between our choice of meaningless absolutes and the Manichean worldview our leaders have evolved? We must decide at elections whether they are right or wrong - about everything. Should we then be surprised when they start talking about good and evil, friend and foe, being with them or against them?

Almost two years ago Troy Davis, a democracy-engineering consultant, pointed out that if a constitutional process in Iraq was to engender trust and national commitment, it had to "promote a culture of democratic debate". Like Professor Vivian Hart, of the University of Sussex, he argued that it should draw on the experiences of Nicaragua in 1986, where 100,000 people took part in townhall meetings reviewing the draft constitution, and of South Africa, where the public made 2 million submissions to the drafting process. In both cases, the sense of public ownership this fostered accelerated the process of reconciliation. Not only is your own voice heard in these public discussions, but you must also hear others. Hearing them, you are confronted with the need for compromise.

But when negotiations are confined to the green zone's black box, the Iraqis have no sense that the process belongs to them. Because they are not asked to participate, they are not asked to understand where other people's interests lie and how they might be accommodated. And when the whole thing goes belly up, it will be someone else's responsibility. If Iraq falls apart over the next couple of years, it would not be unfair, among other factors, to blame the fact that Davis and Hart were ignored. For the people who designed Iraq's democratic processes, history stopped in 1787.

Deliberative democracy is not a panacea. You can have fake participatory processes just as you can have fake representative ones. But it is hard to see why representation cannot be tempered by participation. Why should we be forbidden to choose policies, rather than just parties or entire texts? Can we not be trusted? If not, then what is the point of elections? The age of purely representative democracy is surely over. It is time the people had their say.

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I found the article A War to Be Proud Of extremely interesting and by reprinting a few passages from it I hope that I will guide some debaters from this forum to the place where the whole article can be found.

The article can be found at:


I like the beginning of the article. It’s provocative but it at the same time forces everyone to think and maybe rethink ones own standard approach.

”LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? “

A few lines bellow the writer is trying to compare Iraq war with other conflicts and wars recently so poorly handled.

“The balance sheet of the Iraq war, if it is to be seriously drawn up, must also involve a confrontation with at least this much of recent history. ....... Was James Baker correct to say, in his delightfully folksy manner, that the United States did not "have a dog in the fight" that involved ethnic cleansing for the mad dream of a Greater Serbia? Was the Clinton administration prudent in its retreat from Somalia, or wise in its opposition to the U.N. resolution that called for a preemptive strengthening of the U.N. forces in Rwanda?

I know hardly anybody who comes out of this examination with complete credit. There were neoconservatives who jeered at Rushdie in 1989 and who couldn't see the point when Sarajevo faced obliteration in 1992. There were leftist humanitarians and radicals who rallied to Rushdie and called for solidarity with Bosnia, but who--perhaps because of a bad conscience about Palestine--couldn't face a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even when he annexed a neighbor state that was a full member of the Arab League and of the U.N. …”

The article also expresses an appreciation for the statesmanship of Tony Blair. After so many critical words Blair received at this forum I’m delighted to quote them.

“The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.”

The reasons for invasion of Iraq are given with the help of following arguments. I know that there are people who will never accept them. I would suggest that we should let the history to judge this.

”This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.”


The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied? by Christopher Hitchens at The Weekly Standard, from the September 5 / September 12, 2005 issue.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda
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I can think of one very good reason for the ambivalence of the West towards what's happening in Iraq - most of the Western leaders (in particular Conservatives and Republicans) supported Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.

I was in Saudi Arabia when the first Gulf War broke out, and I remember the consternation among a number of right-wing politicians (such as George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Margaret Thatcher) that 'their' guy had had the temerity to go one step further than they'd sanctioned.

I also remember the feeding frenzy among Western arms suppliers (principally from the US, the UK and France) between the ending of the Iran-Iraq War and the beginning of the first Gulf War. Do we remember the scorn and hatred shown by Mrs Thatcher and the right-wing press in Britain towards that poor Observer reporter (British citizen, by the way) who was executed by Saddam Hussein for daring to reveal some of the nastier practices of Hussein's Iraq?

Note that the indictment against Hussein doesn't currently include starting the Iran-Iraq War. His defence would be too embarrassing for current members of the Bush Administration (Rummy and Cheney, for example).

So … by all means let us rejoice at the fall of a tyrant, but let's also remember who was responsible for keeping him in power for all those years (and it couldn't have been the Left, since they weren't generally in power at the time).

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Well, during the Second World War the democratic regime of United Kingdom and United States decided to support “Uncle Joe’s” Soviet Union in order to defeat a bigger threat; Nazi Germany.

Nobody was at that time unhappy that staunch pillar of democracy co-operated with a totalitarian regime. For the good sake of defeating the evil, democrats at that time co-operated with the Devil itself. Do you know about any debate questioning this??

Conclusion which I try to make is that when democratic regimes accepted the co-operation with “Uncle Joe´s” Empire during the Second World War, which basically afterwards condemned millions of Eastern Europeans to slavery (without any support of so called humanitarian, progressive and against evil demonstrating people of the Free West at that time) the democratic regime broke the rules of decency!

Are you trying to say that the co-operation with Saddam Hussein when fighting Khomeini’s Iran was of the same sort as the Alliance fought against Nazis during the Second World War? What is your point then? Please explain ….. if you can.

Or are you trying to say in your posting that what was acceptable during the time of the Second World War are nor acceptable today?

Or are you trying to tell us that what Roosevelt did was fine ( the outmost cleverness of statesmanship …. it’s called) but what Bush and Clinton and Bush the Elder did is not fine?

Explain it for me, please…. David Richardson!

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I think that the explanation is fairly clear: we in the West (principally France and Germany) sold Saddam Hussein the technology to make poison gas (together with a lot of nuclear technology). The Americans (headed by Donald Rumsfeld) supplied Saddam Hussein with high-grade satellite intelligence about the disposition of Iranian forces. Hussein then gassed the Iranians (in contravention of a list of international agreements, many of which were written after the Second World War specifically to deal with how you sup with the Devil).

Saddam Hussein then used the same technology against the Kurds in 1988 … but he was still our guy then, so neither Mrs Thatcher nor Ronald Reagan basically uttered a peep about it. The gassing of innocent citizens in Hallubja didn't become a war crime until after Hussein had taken over the Kuwaiti oil fields and was ready to roll down the coast to take over the Saudi Arabian ones - at least in the eyes of the same politicians who're trying to make a high moral case nowadays.

I take a simpler view: it was wrong-headed and immoral of the West to encourage Hussein to start the war against Iran in the first place. It was also wrong of us to supply him with weapons of mass destruction, and the means to make more. It was wrong of us to help him use them.

I can't immediately think of a similar set of immoralities during World War Two, although the second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki perhaps qualifies. The big difference there, though, was that the Nagasaki bomb was still untested technology, so you could argue that they needed to try again to really make the point. Poison gas technology has been known about since World War One.

We in the West certainly handed millions of East Europeans over to Soviet oppression … but we were at least contrite about it afterwards, and never tried to pretend that it had never happened (as George Bush the elder and a host of western politicians have tried to do with their dealings with Hussein).

It might also have been the case that the Soviet Union might have tried poison gas out against the Nazis … but we'll never know what might have been, since they felt themselves restrained (perhaps because they were winning anyway, or perhaps because they knew the Germans would retaliate in kind, something the poor, abandoned Kurds couldn't do).

To sum up, my point is that the West's treatment of Hussein before Kuwait was immoral. The differences between the alliance with the Soviet Union and our treatment of Hussein are legion, but at least we're not trying to pretend that the wartime alliance never happened.

If we were trying to achieve a 'greater good' by defeating Iran, then our policy has now finally run into the sand. As many American commentators are now saying, "We had a war against Iraq and the Iranians won." BTW, by this I mean that the country which has benefitted most from the US invasion of Iraq is Iran: they trained and equipped both the political and military organisations which now control the major part of Iraq's territory and oil, and those organisations seem to show allegiance to their trainers.

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Sorry ….. your answer is not an answer. You take as usual a simple way out of this dilemma. But you tried ………….

People of your kind use always to many words ……. To conceal your own short comings.

Please go back to the alliance of the Second World War. Do not try to politicise it in the spectre of today’s situation. Try to se it honestly in the prism of today knowledge.

Do you have an intellectual power to do this?

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If you could specify in what way you think my answer is not an answer, perhaps I could make my ideas a little clearer.

I wasn't aware that there was a 'kind' like me - I'd always seen myself as a bit of an individualist.

And I'm not sure how a moral stance (e.g. "Don't sell poison gas to dictators and encourage them to use it") is politicised. Gassing people is wrong, no matter who does it, and for what purpose, at least according to the Geneva conventions.

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I think that if you read my first posting (which was a reprint of the article from The Weekly Standard) and then look at your answer ( which sadly enough slightly divert from what was a point of debate in The Weekly Standard) and then follow my answer which focused on comparison between co-operation between democracies and dictatorship-country of Uncle Joe during Second World War and comparing this historical situation with dictatorship of Saddam´s Iraq against Iran in 1980th a dictatorship fed by money from France, Germany , Great Britain and at the early stage by USA…… then you will be on right track …….

It´s nevertheless so that you ( here I mean Great Britain people) are immensely proud of defeating Nazi Germany with the help of dictatorial Soviet Union. You are so proud of victory that Munich Pact and Jalta Agreement where you shamelessly sold millions of Eastern European are two Pacts which are …… well how should I put it ……… somehow a matter of high diplomacy ….. not to be shamed of …… something your kids in school read about without discovering what kind of betrayal it handle about ……!

So when you are later critical of the cooperation by your country ( or other countries) with dictators like Saddam I just do not buy it. Such behaviour have been a matter of your diplomacy for centuries!

I tried to say that the standard of dishonesty your country set on diplomatic stage during the Second World War created the dishonesty of today’s world.

But sorry! I ´m wrong ….. because …… the standard of dishonesty started even earlier! It started when you (Great Brittan) by creating Iraq and giving all the power to Sunni Muslims in 1920th acted in shameless and unprecedented way..

The fact is, that it’s today other countries soldiers who pay with their life for the mess you, Great Britain, an absolute imperialistic country, created in Mesopotamian 85 years ago!

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda
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Elegant ….. very elegant. Shall I write that I´m taking my hat of ……

Do your arguments stand a scrutiny? In a short run? In a long run?

Did you actually answer my questions or just dance past them …… as usual when debates are going on …….

The point is as you probably sensed from my earlier posting …… our debates exchanges ….. that I distrust you deeply ……. You know ..... words ....... and again words ....... when my fellow people have been executed or dying when trying to leave what you created for us...........

Talking about justice in today’s world!? In today´s Iraq? I just can’t buy it from people like you ......

Sorry for that.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda
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With respect, Dalibor, you don't know very much about me as a person … However, I'm hoping to be in Gothenburg this coming Sunday, so you can see for yourself whether I've got horns and a tail.

However, let's stick to things we can identify (and perhaps agree on).

It's a good thing that Hussein isn't in power in Iraq any more - he was an evil dictator.

'The end justifies the means' is a very dangerous doctrine - mostly because we can rarely be quite sure what the 'end' is, whilst in the meantime we've accepted some extremely unpleasant acts. The West has had a terrible track record since World War Two with this doctrine. I'm thinking of all the dictators in Latin America (remember that it was Roosevelt who said of Somoza in Nicaragua "he may be a sonofabitch, but he's our sonofabitch") and also of the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected leader of Iran, Mossadeq, for the heinous crime of wanting to take control of Iranian oil. That overthrow sent a powerful signal to the entire region (including one Saddam Hussein) that the West had no interest in democracy - only in power.

Two wrongs don't make a right - just because Hussein is evil, it doesn't follow that every action of the invaders can be justified by that. The invasion itself was illegal … and if it hadn't been, then USA would have had a chance of winning … provided that the US government was prepared to work with the international community instead of against it. Trying to railroad the rest of us into a failing enterprise to create an ex post facto justification for an illegal act was never going to work.

One of the aspects of my current job is to teach people about the culture and society of the US, by the way. It's important not to confuse the good and great aspects of that society with the interests of the cynical band of crooks who're currently running it.

Edited by David Richardson
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You are in your answers drifting apart from 1) the content of reprinted article ”A war to Be Proud Of” and 2) my posting from 6th September, 2 o’clock PM.

By doing this you are discussing things which do not always connect with what was expressed in these two postings. It’s your privilege to talk about what you choose to talk about but on the other hand it’s my privilege to show dissatisfaction.

To my surprise one of your postings (from yesterday where you talk about Teheran and Jalta trying by this to answer to my Munich pact and Jalta agreement) is gone! I answered to this posting of yours by words ”Elegant …. very elegant” . Is somebody tampering with our exchange? Who? Why?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is The Boston Globe, the newspaper published in the state of John Kerry and Kennedy family, the Massachusetts “official” newspaper also a part of a FOX News?

Or shall I trust “at last” this newspaper when republishing extracts from the article which caught my eye.

The whole article can be found at Boston .com :


Under the headline Good news from Iraq

The article offer a positive description of Iraqis approach to democracy and the election for a new constitution.

”Looking at the political posters throughout Baghdad left over from the January election, I realize there may be a historical and cultural foundation that accepts democracy.

And look at what's happened in practice. January's election turnout was astounding; it will certainly be surpassed this fall. A recent poll in the Arabic newspaper Al Hayat reports that 88 percent of Iraqis plan to vote in the October referendum. The Kurds and Shi'ites, comprising 80 percent of the population, embrace the draft constitution. Even disgruntled Sunni Arab leaders are redoubling their efforts to register voters. Many Sunnis will vote in opposition, but opposition in a democracy isn't a bad thing; it's a victory.”

Some debaters on Iraq war compared the insurgency to the resistance during Second World War. The Iraqis people attitude towards the insurgency is described in the article in this way.

”And what does this mean for the insurgency? It's a disaster. The insurgency is despised because Iraqi civilians suffer most at their hands. Recently, even the spiritual leader of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader, demanded that attacks on civilians cease. And in the spring, Leslie Gelb of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations took a tour of Iraq and met with local leaders. He observed that while Iraqis are often frustrated with the Americans, they absolutely hate the insurgency and its murderous destruction. Despite threats, Iraqis will continue to defy the insurgency by voting.”

And what about the economical progress which besides all negative news coming from Iraq is seldom mentioned.

”Since the prewar period, there has been a 250 percent growth in the use of telephones. Electric power generation has grown above prewar levels, even in the midst of insurgent attacks, and after 40 years of complete neglect by Saddam. Every day schools are renovated (3,100 in the past year), and greater numbers of Iraqis receive medical treatment (healthcare spending is 30 times higher than in the prewar period).”

The article is written by By Brian P. Golden in September 16, 2005

(Brian Golden, a major in the US Army Reserve in Iraq, is a commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy.)

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda
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  • 2 months later...

Interesting article by Harith Sulayman al-Dari about the Iraq elections. Harith Sulayman al-Dari is secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq

Iraq has a long history of civilisation that has contributed both knowledge and wisdom to humanity. For many centuries, Islam also immunised Iraq against religious or sectarian strife and protected its population from the oppression that peoples of the ancient world had been subjected to. Generation after generation of Iraqis succeeded in maintaining peaceful coexistence among their diverse sects and races, despite the hardships and challenges they faced. It is by virtue of this cohesion that Iraq managed to rise up again and put its house in order in the wake of every calamity.

In recent times, one of the most difficult periods has been the past 35 years, during which Iraq was subjected to one-party rule by a minority that dragged the country through a series of misadventures, with heavy losses for the Iraqi people. During the last chapter of that painful era, Iraqis were for many years punished with sanctions that caused the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, most of them children. The sanctions ended with an invasion, followed by an occupation by US and British troops, in total complete contravention of international law and in defiance of the UN. The invaders resorted to pretexts that soon proved to be false, including the lie about weapons of mass destruction.

Things became much worse under occupation, which has delivered none of the promised dividends of democracy, freedom, security and prosperity. Instead, Iraqis have been living in fear, poverty, oppression and a lack of freedom.

The occupation troops have resorted to excessive force, indiscriminate killing and collective punishment of the population. They have besieged entire towns, storming into them, instilling fear and horror among residents and destroying their homes. Iraqis have been humiliated and stripped of their basic human rights; they have been subjected to brutal and ghastly forms of torture, as the infamous Abu Ghraib prison case and the British troops' abuse of detainees in Basra have shown.

In the meantime there has been a scandalous failure by successive Iraqi governments to attend to the basic needs of the population. There has been a continuous rise in unemployment, which has been used to force young men to join the military and security establishments, which in turn throw them into the furnace of a destructive, yet futile, war. Many other young men find themselves drawn into drug trafficking because Iraq has become a theatre for this sinister industry although it had until the invasion been one of the few countries in the world that had no significant drugs problem.

The conduct and motivation of the occupation authorities were suspect right from the start, when they encouraged the organised theft of public properties; left weapon dumps unguarded; dissolved the Iraqi army and replaced it with militias whose agendas are incompatible with the collective interests of the Iraqi people; and when it introduced sectarian and racial quotas in political life, paving the way for serious sectarian and racial conflict that has been exploited by some political groups for their own exclusive ends.

This is what has become of Iraq under occupation. The US and its allies bear full legal and moral responsibility for all this: they are the ones who instigated it by illegally invading Iraq.

This is Iraq's reality today. It goes without saying that the continuation of this dreadful situation will have very serious repercussions not only for Iraq but for the region and the entire world.

What is the solution? The cause of the problem, the source of the trouble, is the occupation which has brought all this upon Iraq and the Iraqis. This has to be eliminated. But the US administration remains committed to its occupation and insistent on pushing ahead with a political process that is entirely without credibility.

The refusal by some Iraqi political groups and religious authorities to endorse this process is not born out of a rejection of peaceful political engagement or a decision to opt for a violent solution - as the occupation-sponsored media machine alleges - but stems from a belief in justice, freedom and independence as basic prerequisites for any genuine political process. None of these prerequisites are present, and therefore the current political process cannot provide the Iraqi people with peace and security.

The abuses witnessed during previous elections, as well as during the draft constitution referendum - which had the effect of denying the will of the majority of the Iraqis - only generate scepticism and reinforce the suspicions of those who are boycotting today's elections. Whether Iraqis take part or not, few regard these latest occupation-sponsored elections as any more free or fair than those that preceded them, and they will not help to solve the crisis facing the country.

For the political process to succeed it must proceed in a healthy environment which will take shape only when occupation comes to an end. The solution to the Iraqi problem, in the view of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is simple and logical: it is one that fully complies with international legality and would serve to reinforce it; that would put an end to the daily haemorrhage of Iraqi blood; that would lay the foundations for a state of law that protects the rights of all its citizens and seeks to secure basic human dignity; that provides an alternative to occupation, as explained in the memorandum we submitted to the United Nations and the Arab League.

This solution must be based, first, on an announcement by the US and its allies of a timetable for withdrawing their troops. Second, it would entail replacing the occupation forces with a UN force whose main task would be to fill the security void. This would be followed, thirdly, by the formation of an interim Iraqi government for six months under the supervision of the UN in order to conduct genuine parliamentary elections in which all parts of the Iraqi population would take part. Finally, the duly elected Iraqi government would take charge of the task of rebuilding the country's civil and military institutions.

Nothing will work in Iraq unless the root of the problem is addressed: the occupation must end.

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Well, gee, John, the election that just took place kinda sorta disproves the last paragraph, I think.

The US is accomplishing in Iraq faster than MacArthur did in Japan.

Ten years from now 99% of consumer goods will be made in China or Iraq.

Well, Tim, I suppose it does if you want to bury your head in the sand. What the occupation has managed to achieve is a situation where once-secular Iraq is under the control of more or less extreme Muslim fundamentalist groups … well, at least the two-thirds of the country which is populated by Sunnis and Shias.

Both the Sunnis and Shias turned out to vote yesterday on the urging of their respective clerics … whilst the Kurds were voting for de facto independence (which our NATO ally, Turkey, will undoubtedly be extremely hostile to). What I think they were voting for was the further break-up of the country.

All I saw yesterday was a further demonstration of the statement: the US had a war in Iraq and the Iranians won.

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