Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Informed Comment Juan Cole

Informed Comment:

Shiites Take Absolute Majority in Parliament
Iran Scores Victory in the Iraqi Elections

Lebanese Broadcasting Co.'s satellite television news is reporting that the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), comprising Shiite religious parties, has won an absolute majority (141 seats) after adjustments were made in accordance with electoral procedure. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the list leader, expressed his pleasure at this 51 percent outcome for his coalition. The UIA still needs a 2/3s majority, and therefore a coalition partner or partners, to form a government (which involves electing a president and two vice-presidents, who will appoint a prime minister). But it can now win votes on procedure and legislation without needing any other partner.

Robin Wright of the Washington Post points out that an electoral victory of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party, both of them close to Tehran, is not what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Neoconservatives had been going for with this Iraq adventure. The United Iraqi Alliance is led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a Shiite cleric who lived over 2 decades in exile in Iran. I point out that the likely coalition partner of the United Iraqi Alliance is the Kurdistan Alliance, led by Jalal Talabani, who is himself very close to Tehran. So there are likely to be warm Baghdad-Tehran relations.

Likewise, it is worth pointing out that the new Shiite government in Baghdad will support the Lebanese Shiites, including Hezbollah.

One of the Neoconservatives' goals had been the installation of a pro-Israel government in Baghdad. But at Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution rallies and Friday prayers services, crowds have been known to chant 'Death to Israel!'

Stanley Reed of Business Week points out that a UIA-dominated Iraq is likely to move toward implementation of Islamic law, even if not toward clerical rule. One question is whether the Dawa Party tradition of thinking about economics, exemplified in the Our Economy of Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980), will be implemented versus Washington's laissez-faire dreams. In any case, most movements of political Islam have been interested in implementing Islamic law, not in clerical rule. That was the program in the Sudan, for instance, and is what the United Action Council (mainly the Jama'at-i Islami) is going for in the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan. This direction seems to be the one Iraq is now taking."

Okay, so Juan Cole is a real leftist jerk who wants to see freedom in Iraq falter. He and his lefty ilk can't help but fawn over dictators like Castro and Saddam. But I link to his post because it is true that no one can predict with certainty what the new Iraqi Shiite-dominated government will look like. But a few things first. First-people voted for these leaders. Cole seems to forget that, or doesn't seem to think that that fact alone makes whatever government that takes power in Iraq more legitimate. Democracy is a good thing. In my opinion, all dictators and tyrants should be killed. Man may war on man, but no man should be a slave to a king. Secondly, there may well be extremest muslims in Iraq's new government. I think that experience will show that when people get to elect religious nuts to government, they quickly see the results, and vote more moderate people in the next time. Whereas if you fear the extremists, and prop up dictators, people never get to see the error of their ways and pine for extremism for ever, since dictatorships also breed misery of their own. Only by putting the power in the hands of the people is real progress possible. The worst crime on the United States' hands isn't democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is supporting dictators in the Middle East previously. That has come back to haunt us and we need to make it right, and our soldiers are doing so right now. Our hands were tied however in fighting a far larger dictatorial foe in the Soviet Union. Now they are gone and we are mopping up the mess.
Oh, and PS, Juan Cole is a great example of an opinionated lefty professor who is used to holding court in his classroom, and enjoying his brilliance, but can't stand it now that ordinary mortals have their own blogs and webpages and engage in rational debate with him. He's shown that when he makes a mistep, or misstatement, and is corrected or challenged by the blogosphere, he can't take it. He resorted to pathetic ad hominem attacks. However, reason is the coin of the realm as far as debate about any topic is concerned, not how many degrees you have, or how many people read your newspaper. Juan is one of the many people on the wrong side of history, but now their lies and foolishness will be proven wrong, and recorded for posterity. How wonderful it is to live in this age of the internet.

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