Skip to comments.Should the Iraqi Election be Delayed?
Posted on 12/06/2004 5:10:58 PM PST by Congressman Billybob
Many commentators have questioned whether the Iraqi elections, scheduled for 30 January, 2004, should be delayed. Such comments from anyone at the UN should be rejected out of hand. After all, the UN is dominated by dictatorships who fear free elections the way vampires fear necklaces of garlic. Plus, the UN is on a long, unrelieved run of anti-Americanism. Whatever the US favors, UN bureaucrats will instinctively oppose.
But some of the groundswell to delay the Iraqi election comes from the likes of the New York Times, who ought to know better. This is perhaps the tenth time I have quoted George Santayanas statement, Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. Those who forget the history of the most durable democratic republic in history (the US) will not understand the path to success for any other nation.
What was the most important election in US history? Weve had elections during wars. Weve had elections during Depressions. But the most critical election was the first one, in 1789, when our Constitution first went into effect and George Washington, who set many examples for all Presidents to come, was first elected.
Some of the better-prepared (but less seen or read) pundits have noted that during the Civil War some states did not participate in the election of Abraham Lincoln. Yet that fact did not make his election illegitimate. There is an example clearer than that, which all sources except this column you are now reading, have missed.
How many states existed during that first presidential election in 1789? Just the original 13 states.
How many states took part in the election of George Washington in 1789? (This is not a trick question.) Only 10 states took part in that election.
A reporter or editor who was competently prepared on the subject of democracy in America would know the following facts: As of the election of 1789, two states were not part of the Union. North Carolina and Rhode Island had both failed to ratify the Constitution. As the relatively unknown fifth page of the Constitution provided, it applied only to the states so ratifying the same. So there were only 11 states in the Union at that time.
What was the other state missing from that election? New York did not participate because its legislature hadnt passed an election law in time so that state could take part.
Anyone who cares to check the facts will find that only 10 states cast Electoral College votes in the election of George Washington. Theyll also find that the election of Washington was not unanimous; a total of eleven other men received votes for President in that election. But the most important aspect of that election was that it took place, and that a stable US government resulted from that.
Consider the failure of American governance which preceded that election. Under the prior constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the federal government had failed. Our diplomats were reduced to being beggars in foreign capitols, borrowing money at high rates of interest to keep the government afloat. Financial failure at home and inability to pay war debts had led directly to Shays Rebellion, which came close to toppling the American government, and also threatened more of the same.
It was this national failure which led to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. But however good the Constitution that the Convention produced might be in theory, national and international respect and legitimacy of the US could not be restored until an actual government was elected and began to function under that Constitution.
You now see the parallel with Iraq in the 21 century. Iraq is now squarely on the cusp between abject failure as a government, and possible success greater than any other Arab government in history. It has a theory of government a constitution. But until it conducts its first honest and successful election under that constitution, there is no chance of success and the odds of failure grow by the day.
It would have been a disaster for the US to delay the election of 1789 because 3 of 13 states were not participating. For the exact same reasons, it would be a disaster for the Iraqi election of 2005 to be delayed because 4 of its 18 provinces might not be able to participate. History is a fine teacher, but only for those who bother to read it.
About the Author: John Armor is a First Amendment attorney and author who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. CongressmanBillybob@earthlink.net
HELL, NO.....STAND AND FIGHT!!!!!!!!!
yes, it should be delayed. if the security siuation remains as it is currently, it shoud be delayed. the iraqi forces are not able to provide security.
if the election is held, there will be massacres at many polling places. that will be the only story that gets any media attention regarding the iraqi election.
delaying the election will not "cripple iraq" - its simply an acknowledgment of the realities faced on the ground there, and that more time is needed to correct them.
Postponing an election on the premise that somebody might get hurt empowers those that are opposed to democracy. The next time they will up the ante to prevent elections. You can't negotiate with terrorists. Besides, would the elections be postponed because of weather.
Good stuff, CB. After listening to the Iraqi PM (Sunni) today (when he was with Bush in presser), I'm convinced the people of that country want this date to hold.
Yes, we should go ahead. If the Sunnis want to terrorize their neighbors or boycott the election, that's their business.
I don't know how often we have to point out that in this life, nothing is perfect. That's especially true of politics. If we wait until everything is perfect, we'll wait forever, because the terrorists, encouraged by the delay, will just start making new problems.
Let the Iraqi elections go forward, come hell or high water. Delay IS NOT AN OPTION. Any delay will only exacerbate the problem. Hat's off to you Congressman Billybob...
Shortly after he!! freezes over and tasks the terrorists in self survival without our help.
You have some "reality' arguments.
However,The delaying elections will probably be demoralizing to the Iraqis that want their own government. The Iraqis surely should be able to figure out a process for the elections. Why not take Florida's model....we took WEEKS to get our election done with all the pre-election day voting and lots of alternative polling places.
Uh, I am not hearing the UN really getting involved to figure out a process.
Just, for God's sake, keep Jimmy Carter outta 'der!!
Can't have the elections early, of course, but holding the elections in Afghanistan pretty much shut up the nay-sayers there, and we need to do the same in Iraq.
As a general practice, I look at the position taken by the NYT, and take the OPPOSITE position. Works 99% of the time!
how many people waiting to vote in florida were gunned down by AK47s and car bombs? if you don't think that is going to happen on election day in iraq, you are mistaken. absent some quick turnaround in the security situation there, it will.
I would say go forward with this election, if you could convince me that time wouldn't help solve this problem. But indeed, time is what we need to kill more insurgents, train more iraqi police and get the ones on the job now to actually start shooting back, etc. how many people a re you willing to see die to hold the election on 1/30?
Thanks for the bump,oceanview----A good read,but I still feel the way I feel.
The early elections didn't have bombs going off all over the place and raging terrorists----ooops,insurgents,trying to kill anything that moves.
yes. and again, notice how few posts these iraqi threads on FR get these days.
How far back will multiple massacres at the voting precincts
set the democratic process back?
Security must improve dramatically or the voters will not go to the polling place, making election 2005 in Iraq a joke.
Keep American and other Coalition troops back about 5 miles back from the polling places and let the chips fall where they may.
will security be better in 3,6 months. no the bad guys will see they forced a delay and step up the attacks.
if the sunni's do not get thier voice heard then they are to blame for allowing the terrorist safe haven for so long.
let them lose out not the 14 districts that are ready.
How far back will multiple massacres at the voting precincts
set the democratic process back?
Probably not as great a setback as postponing them would have. Postponing over "security concerns" pretty much assures the terrorists that they can disrupt any process that they see fit.
Typo -- didn't you mean 30 January, 2005?
I'd say more like the way vampires fear silver bullets, crucifixes, and wooden stakes. (and of course Buffy). Dictatorships fear elections because afterwords, dictators often end up dead, or at beat exiled to Uganda or Saudi Arabia.
Generally sound analysis -- BUT. Washington was "unanimous" in the sense that every elector gave him a vote. Pre-12th amendment, each elector had TWO votes. Each give Washington one of his two, and the other vote was scattered among 10 people, with Adams being elected Vice-Pres by having the second most votes. (This system is what led to the fiasco of 1800, where Jefferson and his putative Veep, Burr, tied by having the same number of votes, as ALL of their elctors voted for both, TJ having forgotten the system and not arranging to have one of his guys drop Burr!)
Require at least one member of each family to come to the poll with an AK-47, SKS, G-3 or whatever. It hasn't been that long since bringing your arms to the poll was a requirement in Switzerland. It also tends to discourage the odd Jihadie.
Either way---delay or not--there will be consequences. The administration has decided that the consequences associated with delay would be worse than those associated with the problems of security in January. I tend to buy this position as I think that delaying would simply reinforce the terrorists' behavior and encourage the enemy. Your points, though, are well-taken and logical.
I guess the bottom line is that there is not a perfect answer, and I, for one, will not follow the NY Times and other doom and gloomers lead in not being satisfied absent a perfect solution.
BTW, I'm not accusing you of such, just for pointing out the issues with not delaying. There is a difference between that and demanding perfection when it is not feasible (i.e., the position of the NY Times, Joe Biden, and other fairly unhelpfuls).
BTW ... My folks live in western N.C., and I will be sending them the link to your website so they can keep their eye out for you.
yes, security likely will be better in 3 to 6 months. if you are arguing that it will not be, then you are essentially saying the effort in iraq is failing. if the security sitution isn't improving over time, what the hell are we doing over there?
we can't even get the iraqi police to shoot back - now you want voters to open fire?
all we need is one major break over there to put this insurgency on the decline - a zarqawi capture, s few incidents where the iraqi forces/police actually repel some attacks and blow the insurgents away. just one break, and we can snap this thing. once the trend is in place, it will feed on itself, and then we will know that an election can be sensibly scheduled and conducted.
Agreed---I think, though, that Fallujah was that break.
Hold the election on the appointed date.
it was part of it - but clearly many of them relocated because the element of surprise was zero.
Speaking from ignorance, but I hope that we are taking their cultural / tribal / religious norms into account with what we are doing.
let them give it a shot. if it fails, we move into the "controlled civil war" stage of this effort, and let the shia and the kurds kill all the sunnis.
by better are you saying NO attacks on polling places?
i think that delaying elections will not give iraq the legitimacy that it will get if they procede on 1/30/2005.
even in the north after all this time the darn kurds are still letting us fight thier "civil war". when the north is the most U.S. friendly and stable section of iraq. 12 years of no fly protection and 1+ year of U.S. direct involvement on the ground and we still aren't getting what we pay for in U.S. blood.
i am 100% behind what we are doing in the middle east but its time to see if the iraqi are interested in self determination.
I am afraid that how it plays out.
your confusing me now,
let them give it a shot? is this on or after 1/30/2005?
btw, i have no problem with the shia and kurds wiping out the sunni if they don't want to be a part of what could be a major upgrade in life overall.
yes, a shot at a unified country. not necessarily on 1/30 (for other reasons, namely the security), but in general. it might not work, and the civil war is the "alternative".
We can deal with these murderers if they have to come into the street carrying weapons or explosives.
the civil war is already happening. we just happen to be fighting it for the shia and kurds.
after an election the crux of the biscuit will be right square on those who should be actively fighting it now.
we will still be there taking the brunt of the fight but i think the iraqis will gain so much from actually having thier voice heard that even the iraqi police force may gain some backbone.
I think the only "reality" is that postponing elections will accomplish only one thing: telling the terrorists that they have won and can influence our decisions.
you are correct sir.
i often wondered why we let the police and or ING, gather in crowds to get pay and or sign up.
it would be easy to set up stations outside city limits requiring a 1/2 or 1 mile walk through open space to enlist or collect. any vehicle moving anywhere is fair game.
a suicide bomber still may get near but 1 or 2 vs 10s and 20s getting hit is way much better.
Oops..Many said the same thing about Afghanistan
i think the terrorists blew it in afghanistan (thank the Lord)
they will be much more active in iraq, but we must move ahead with the vote! 1/30/2005, let freedom reign
the minds of things taking place on a daily basis in iraq, were not going on in afghanistan.
"Anyone who cares to check the facts will find that only 10 states cast Electoral College votes in the election of George Washington. Theyll also find that the election of Washington was not unanimous; a total of eleven other men received votes for President in that election. But the most important aspect of that election was that it took place, and that a stable US government resulted from that."
Minor point of disagreement: As far as it was possible, the election of George Washington as President in 1789 was unanimous. Since as you pointed out there were only 11 States in the Union in 1789, New York did not appoint its allotted eight Electors, Maryland had two Electors who did not vote, Virginia had one Elector who did not vote and one Elector who was not chosen due to lack of returns from that District. So 12 Electors out of the possible 81 cast no electoral ballots.
So of the 69 electors who could vote, each was given two electors votes in their choice for President, which could not be cast for the same candidate. This means that while there were 138 possible electoral votes to be cast, a candidate could at best receive only half of them, or 69 electoral votes. George Washington received that maximum number of 69 electoral votes. one vote from each elector. Since the Constitution at that time was structured to have the candidate who received the second most electoral votes was to become the Vice-President, every elector understood that his "second" electoral vote would actually 'elect' the Vice-President, since no other candidate would receive a 'unanimous' 69 electoral votes, rather they were fragmented among 5+ other 'Presidential' candidates. John Adams became the Vice-President upon receiving 34 electoral votes.
Since a candidate could only get a maximum of 69 electoral votes of the 138 electoral votes cast in 1789, I submit that George Washington was unanimously elected under the pre-12th Amendment system. He would not have been if another candidate had also received 69 electoral votes, then forcing the election into the House of Representatives...
The other essential components are a Free Press, Free Speech, Free, Stable and Prosperous Economy, Domestic Tranquility and party system that has at least two major political parties.
Iraq may have an election but they will not be a Democracy any time soon.
However, it can be done, it is just going to take a while.
There cannot be freedom without stability.