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Mark Steyn: The 'civil war' that wasn't
The Australian ^ | 1 February | Mark Steyn

Posted on 01/31/2005 6:11:24 AM PST by Eurotwit

AND so the "looming Iraqi election fiasco" joins "the brutal Afghan winter" and "the brutal Iraqi summer" and "the seething Arab street" and all the other junk in the overflowing trash can of post-9/11 Western media fictions. The sight of millions of brave voters emerging from polling stations holding high their purple dye-stained fingers was so inspiring that, from America's Democratic Party to European protest rallies, opponents of the war waited, oh, all of three minutes before flipping the Iraqis their own fingers, undyed.

"No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election," warned John Kerry yesterday before embarking on the world champion limbo dance of Iraqi election under-hyping.

He has a point. One vote does not a functioning democracy make. To be a truly advanced, sophisticated democracy you need an opposition party that knows how to react to good news by sounding whiny and grudging and moving the goalposts. "The real test is not the election," he declared, airily swatting aside 8 million voters. "The real test is..."

I dozed off at that point, so I'm unable to tell you what moved goalposts the senator inserted. But no doubt they involved, as they always do, the Bush administration needing to "reach out" more effectively to involve the "international community". "International community", by the way, doesn't mean Tony Blair, John Howard, the Poles, Japan, India, Fiji, et al but Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end. But, in an advanced, sophisticated democracy, that's how we define the "international community": no matter how many foreigners are in your coalition, it's unilateral unless Jacques is on board.

In Commonwealth countries, of course, we have the concept of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, so called because the Loyal Opposition carries on like a hysterical old queen. Thus, Kim Beazley, back in the saddle and already sore -- on the very eve of the Iraqi election triumph, when elementary prudence might have suggested waiting 24 hours before singing another refrain of When It's Quagmire Time on the Tigris.

But the old new Labor Party leader had barely taken possession of the keys to the executive washroom before he was "warning" the US that it risked being bogged down in -- all together now -- "a long-running civil war in Iraq".

How lame do you have to be to be the last guy on the planet to do the old "Iraq on the brink of civil war" routine? Just as "the brutal Afghan winter" that was supposed to mire shivering US forces in the graveyard of empire is now one-third of a decade behind schedule, so Iraq has now been "teetering on the brink of civil war" for coming up for two years. Brink-wise, that's quite a leisurely teeter. There's no danger of a "long-running civil war in Iraq". Instead, we've had a long-running hysteria about impending civil war in Iraq.

Indeed, as long runs go, predictions of Iraqi civil war are the Cats of doomsday scenarios -- except that, unlike Cats, it's all previews and no opening night. Tom Clark of Canada's CTV network was warning that "Iraq could be teetering on the brink of civil war" in August 2003. Graydon Carter, editor of the perfumed glossy Vanity Fair, was warning that Iraq was "on the brink of civil war" a month earlier.

To their credit, both men teetered on the brink of making a laughably inaccurate prediction and then plunged right in. What's the point of Beazley teetering on the brink of retirement for half a decade only to come back and hurl himself into the abyss of yesterday's cliches?

To hold a civil war you need two sides. Iraq fails to meet that minimum requirement. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- not an Iraqi, incidentally -- has a few foreign jihadi, some enthusiastic head-hackers and a dwindling supply of suicide bombers, a job in which by definition it's hard to get people with experience. On election day, his guys bullied a kid with Down syndrome into taking the gig. You can't have a Sunni-Shia war because Zarqawi doesn't represent the Sunni. Meanwhile, in the face of his provocations, the Shia have been a model of restraint and discipline and political surefootedness. Beazley might learn a thing or two from them.

Granted, a footling suicide cult with no mass support will still blow up cars and burn buildings, and it's savvy enough to do so in parts of the country conveniently located so that Zarqawi's shills in the Western press corps don't have to stray far from their hotels tofilm it. Or as the internet satirist Scott Ott deftly summarised the coverage: "Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings."

That's another sign that you're a mature, sophisticated democracy -- when you've got media so bogged down in the Vietnam-like quagmire of their ancient Vietnam quagmire analogies that they're unable to drag themselves free, whatever happens. The election was "an act of folly in the eyes of so many Iraqis", pronounced a confident Robert Fisk, the beloved comic doom-monger. Care to pin down that so many a bit more precisely, Robert?

In his own pre-election message, Zarqawi denounced the "evil" of democracy and warned any Iraqis who went along with it that they'd be regarded as having gone over to the other side. Yet at some Sunni Triangle precincts there were reports of 40per cent voter turnout -- courageous men and women who were willing to defy the thugs and murderers in their own so-called stronghold.

That's not how Paul McGeough, The Sydney Morning Herald's man in Baghdad, sees things. Zarqawi may have issued an explicit threat against voting in the election, but according to McGeough yesterday, you weren't

at risk of being killed for showing up but for staying away. "It was only a personal threat of violence that motivated some people to go to the polls." They came "only because of the gun at their backs".

How many would that be? Six million? Fourteen thousand? Couple of dozen? Hard to tell from McGeough's report. Perhaps he's just confused. Isn't it Australia where you're forced to vote whether you want to or not?

Three years ago, Jonathan Kay of Canada's National Post wrote that if Robert Mugabe turned up at an Arab League meeting he'd be the most democratically legitimate leader in the room. That's no longer true.

What happened on Sunday was a victory for the Iraqi people and a vindication for a relatively small group of Western politicians -- most notably the much-maligned US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, whose faith in those Iraqi people turned out to be so much shrewder than the sneers of his detractors.

John Kerry is wrong. It's time for him and Ted Kennedy and Kim Beazley and Paul McGeough to stop under-hyping. If freedom isn't on the march, it's moving forward dramatically in a region notoriously inimical to it.

This weekend's election was a rebuke to the parochial condescension of the West's elites.

"These elections are a joke," Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan, told Reuters. Sorry, professor, the joke's on you. And the modern Middle East history is being made by the fledgling democracy of the new Iraq.

Mark Steyn is a columnist with Britain's Telegraph group and a regular contributor to The Australian's Opinionpage.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: iraq; iraqielection; marksteyn
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1 posted on 01/31/2005 6:11:24 AM PST by Eurotwit
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To: Eurotwit
Re #1

To be a truly advanced, sophisticated democracy you need an opposition party that knows how to react to good news by sounding whiny and grudging and moving the goalposts.

Yep, that's the ticket. /sarcasm

2 posted on 01/31/2005 6:13:52 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
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To: Eurotwit
Woot!


3 posted on 01/31/2005 6:14:12 AM PST by Fenris6 (3 Purple Hearts in 4 months w/o missing a day of work? He's either John Rambo or a Fraud)
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To: Eurotwit
I like the 'seething Arab Street' the best. They always are there to warn us back into our safe habits. Perhaps we just put up the first traffic light.
4 posted on 01/31/2005 6:14:43 AM PST by ChicagoRighty (Surrounded by libbies and damn tired of it!)
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To: Eurotwit
Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end.

If I loved this man any more, I would scare myself

5 posted on 01/31/2005 6:16:26 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Pokey78

ping


6 posted on 01/31/2005 6:17:53 AM PST by Eurotwit
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To: Eurotwit

'Nuff said!


7 posted on 01/31/2005 6:18:31 AM PST by madball
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To: Eurotwit
How lame do you have to be to be the last guy on the planet to do the old "Iraq on the brink of civil war" routine?

Wow ... if I could insult people with such smoothness, I'd be just impossible.

8 posted on 01/31/2005 6:19:23 AM PST by Tax-chick (Some people say that Life is the thing, but I prefer reading.)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Fenris6

Perhaps all the Iraqis who want freedom should keep their fingers colored purple. Then any who don't bear the mark can be picked up and investigated.


10 posted on 01/31/2005 6:19:40 AM PST by ichabod1 (The Spirit of the Lord Hath Left This Place)
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To: Eurotwit

BTTT


11 posted on 01/31/2005 6:23:49 AM PST by spodefly (Yo, homey ... Is that my briefcase?)
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To: Eurotwit
"Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings."

I can easily see this on the crawler under Peter Jennings' upturned nose.

12 posted on 01/31/2005 6:25:37 AM PST by kahoutek
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To: Eurotwit

I don't know how Steyn does it.

Every paragraph is a gem.


13 posted on 01/31/2005 6:27:55 AM PST by kidd
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To: Eurotwit

Or as the internet satirist Scott Ott deftly summarised the coverage: "Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings"
snip

I just read that the morning shows concentrated on Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press...no pictures of dancing voters in Iraq..predictable but sad.


14 posted on 01/31/2005 6:29:08 AM PST by MEG33 (GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES)
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To: Eurotwit
Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end

I wish they’d capture Mullah Omar already, so I could change my tagline.

15 posted on 01/31/2005 6:29:24 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Eurotwit
These elections are a joke," Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan

No, Juan Cole is a joke. He even had the nerve to argue with a Sunni Iraqi over Iraqi history. Apparently HE knows more about what happened in 1920 then the tribes involved.

16 posted on 01/31/2005 6:32:24 AM PST by McGavin999
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To: Eurotwit

Vindication is sweet.


17 posted on 01/31/2005 6:32:39 AM PST by unsycophant
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To: Eurotwit
"No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election," warned John Kerry"

Add that to the list along with "The election doesn't mean President Bush has a mandate."

18 posted on 01/31/2005 6:34:11 AM PST by Enterprise ("Dance with the Devil by the Pale Moonlight" - Islam compels you!)
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To: Enterprise

Wisdom from the admiral of the Cambodian Navy.


19 posted on 01/31/2005 6:40:28 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eurotwit

This is another beautifully written piece by Mark Steyn. I can only add that, I hope, emboldened by this election, Iraqis will take responsibility and start turning in these "insurgents". This was a real milestone in our Iraqi involvement and a powerful vindication of George Bush's policies.



20 posted on 01/31/2005 6:43:09 AM PST by claudiustg (Go Sharon! Go Bush!)
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To: MEG33

Yep. Steyn gets it all right.

Maybe some day the "International Community" will too. Until then, W, Keep up the good work!


21 posted on 01/31/2005 6:45:47 AM PST by cloud8
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To: Eurotwit
John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are not creditable, they represent some other world so someone please tell the MSM & MSP, Chris Matthews, Peter Jennings etc. we don't want to hear anything further from these troglodytes. They are the appeasers who want to talk their enemies into submission......What?????? Or maybe just as one wag put it – just swim away. Who wants to be apart of the FFO program with Kerry,s pal, sticky-fingers Chirac

It is time to re-read this:(EUROPE - THY NAME IS COWARDICE)

22 posted on 01/31/2005 6:46:24 AM PST by yoe (Bye-bye Teddy and Kerry.........)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

How will Kerry sell the line that the election isn't significant when some of his traditional allies in the media say that it is significant?


23 posted on 01/31/2005 6:47:48 AM PST by popdonnelly
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: Hegewisch Dupa
"Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end. "

That is the funniest thing I have read this year. Every time I read it I laugh even harder. A writer could literally claim his career an outstanding success just by penning that single line. Steyn gets one of those out about once a week.

25 posted on 01/31/2005 6:54:24 AM PST by Check_Your_Premises (American Conservatism is the lone defender of the ideals of Western Civilization)
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To: Eurotwit; Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...
Thanks!


26 posted on 01/31/2005 6:57:39 AM PST by Pokey78 (11/02/04: The death of Zogby's "sterling" reputation.)
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To: Eurotwit; Pokey78
Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end.

Thank you Mr Steyn!

27 posted on 01/31/2005 6:59:57 AM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Eurotwit

Mark Steyn is brilliant!
Every word!
Beautiful Mind bump!


28 posted on 01/31/2005 7:02:11 AM PST by PGalt
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To: Tax-chick
How lame do you have to be to be the last guy on the planet to do the old "Iraq on the brink of civil war" routine?

Wow ... if I could insult people with such smoothness, I'd be just impossible.

Eleanor Clift was saying it just yesterday! What a twit! EC not you!

29 posted on 01/31/2005 7:04:20 AM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Eurotwit

self ping.

Hope Iraq settles down soon.


30 posted on 01/31/2005 7:06:03 AM PST by redgolum
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To: Eurotwit

BTTT


31 posted on 01/31/2005 7:08:43 AM PST by knews_hound (Out of the NIC ,into the Router, out to the Cloud....Nothing but 'Net)
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To: Pokey78

This was my first thing to read on FR today - off to a good start!


32 posted on 01/31/2005 7:08:54 AM PST by ride the whirlwind
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To: Pokey78

bump!


33 posted on 01/31/2005 7:13:05 AM PST by rudypoot
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To: Rummyfan

Then I guess Eleanor Clift is pretty lame :-).


34 posted on 01/31/2005 7:21:39 AM PST by Tax-chick (Some people say that Life is the thing, but I prefer reading.)
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To: Check_Your_Premises

'...."Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end. "
That is the funniest thing I have read this year. Every time I read it I laugh even harder. A writer could literally claim his career an outstanding success just by penning that single line. Steyn gets one of those out about once a week......'

I predict this phrase will enter our lexicon, and see a great deal of use. This is a quote for the ages.


35 posted on 01/31/2005 7:22:45 AM PST by Renfield (Philosophy chair at the University of Wallamalloo!!)
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To: redgolum
Robert Fisk, wasn't he the first Clinton impeachment special prosecutor who quickly passed on the baton?   I can see now how impartial a treatment we'd've gotten from him!

HF

36 posted on 01/31/2005 7:28:22 AM PST by holden (holden awnuhnuh truth, de whole truth, 'n nuttin' but de truth)
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Bump for lunchtime read...


37 posted on 01/31/2005 7:41:43 AM PST by eureka! (It will not be safe to vote Democrat for a long, long, time...)
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To: Eurotwit

What I'd like to ask the MSM:

"You guys were wrong about Afghanistan, the Afghani Winter, the invasion of Iraq, and on many other occasions. And now it seems you were wrong about the Iraqi election.

Are you prepared now to admit to the American people that you made mistakes in your reporting...Will you tell the American people that you just didn't get it right? Will you tell the American people that YOU WERE WRONG?...?"

Not that I'm holding my breath.


38 posted on 01/31/2005 7:45:50 AM PST by moonhawk (Democrats are to "Diversity and Tolerance" as Islam is to "Peace.")
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To: Eurotwit
I heard on the radio that Chirac actually telephoned Bush (who apparently took the call) to congratulate him on the Iraqi election. One hopes he also called Allawi, but even if he didn't, and even though I gather he was muted in his enthusiasm, he still has more class than Kerry (not, admittedly, an astounding feat).

Does anyone know if there's any kind of "congratulations book" (comparable to the too frequent condolence books) set up for people to give their individual best wishes to the Iraqis? I'd love to sign something like that!

39 posted on 01/31/2005 7:52:54 AM PST by maryz
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To: Eurotwit
"........Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end. But, in an advanced, sophisticated democracy, that's how we define the "international community": no matter how many foreigners are in your coalition, it's unilateral unless Jacques is on board."


The "international community" of Uranus

40 posted on 01/31/2005 7:57:41 AM PST by Earthdweller (US descendant of French Protestants)
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To: Hegewisch Dupa; Eurotwit
Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end.

This has got to be the best line I have seen in a long time! I may have to "borrow" it (modified as necessary) for certain other notable pairs: Kerry/Edwards, Bill-n-Hill, etc.

41 posted on 01/31/2005 8:12:01 AM PST by RebelBanker (To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!)
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To: Check_Your_Premises

To me, it's the really astounding thing about his writting. He has a least one of those sentences in every article he writes.


42 posted on 01/31/2005 8:14:36 AM PST by tjg
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To: Pokey78

After reading this, I have to get on the Mark Steyn ping list! I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to add me to it. Thanks!


43 posted on 01/31/2005 8:15:19 AM PST by RebelBanker (To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!)
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To: Eurotwit
but Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end.

Gotta love Steyn!

44 posted on 01/31/2005 8:16:55 AM PST by pgkdan
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To: Pokey78

Thanks for the ping. Another great article by the best writer in the business.


45 posted on 01/31/2005 8:17:50 AM PST by Max Combined
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To: Eurotwit
""These elections are a joke," Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan, told Reuters. Sorry, professor, the joke's on you. And the modern Middle East history is being made by the fledgling democracy of the new Iraq."

Not a joke, but not 'all that' either. I think both sides are making too much of this election. Elections are a psychological boost, especially to a people who have been under the thumb of tyrants. The left should not make light of their importance. Sometimes just the knowledge that conditions can improve will give strong impetus for them to do so.

On the other hand, electing new leaders doesn't solve all problems. In many, perhaps most cases, people will be unhappy with the new leaders chosen, and many of the new leaders will be just as corrupt as the old. Another problem is many of the civil institutions older democratic countries take for granted, do not exist in Iraq or if they do, work only marginally.

It's simply too early to tell if democracy will be permanent in Iraq. The only thing for certain is that there will be continued violence, and that US troops will be stationed there for a very long time to come.

Twenty to thirty years would be my guess, but then we are still in Japan, Korea, and Germany, not to mention Kosovo and Bosnia, so it could be considerably longer.
46 posted on 01/31/2005 8:20:34 AM PST by monday
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To: Eurotwit
The joke's on the always behind the moment Left.

Denny Crane: "I want two things. First God and then Fox News."

47 posted on 01/31/2005 8:21:12 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: holden

Robert Fisk is a Brit leftist writer and a moron, but I am being redundant.


48 posted on 01/31/2005 8:22:00 AM PST by Max Combined
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To: Fenris6

a fingerprint to vote would do wonders here.


49 posted on 01/31/2005 8:29:35 AM PST by printhead
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To: Eurotwit
"Or as the internet satirist Scott Ott deftly summarised the coverage: "Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings."

Yes, its brilliant, and it's here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1331815/posts
50 posted on 01/31/2005 8:33:43 AM PST by Tolik
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