Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

As everyone knows by now, today there was a significant attack against a military base in Mosul that killed a couple dozen U.S. troops and a few civilians, in addition to wounding an unknown number of people.

First I must remark that the difference between the reaction to 60 Iraqis being killed last week (a shrug) and the reaction 24 Americans being killed today (mounting horror) fills my heart with shame and sadness, but there is not much more to be said about that, so I will leave it aside.

What will be much discussed (though if experience is any indicator, it will be discussed in increasingly moronic terms until, by the Sunday talk shows, no thoughtful line of reasoning will be discernible amidst the din) is what, exactly, this means for the security of the elections that are scheduled for one month from today. This will be treated as a very difficult question that big minds are wrestling with, when of course anyone can conclude that if a tent full of U.S. soldiers can be subjected to a large-scale attack in broad daylight, the chances that polling places will have anything even approaching a minimum semblance of security is simply ridiculous and can be dismissed out of hand.

There is a growing possibility - perhaps now a probability - that the January 30th elections will be such a colossal disaster that, rather than this sudden tranformation to a desert paradise that is supposed to result from the election of a powerless sham parliament, we are going to see the wheels come off the Iraq occupation in February.

There are basically two ways we can go with the elections - one, we can provide a minimum of security, with the predictable result being massive disruption of the voting by resistance bombings and attacks. Two, we can provide heavy security, with the predictable result being massive attacks against U.S. troops and heavy American casualties.

Given the political impact of these two possible results - that is, given the fact that hundreds of dead Iraqis will not arouse nearly the outrage of a few dozen dead American soldiers - it seems fairly clear that the path chosen by Rumsfeld and Cheney will be to allow a free-for-all on Iraqi polling places, except for a few key ones that are easily defended and where majorities of sympathetic Shi'ite's can be expected to turn out.

So Iraq's first experience with what are being called free and fair elections will be the following: The election is administered by an occupying government and overseen by a puppet prime minister installed by that occupier. The polling places where opponents of the current government are likely to show up will be turned into killing fields, while a few key areas, dominated by supporters of the government, will be allowed to vote unmolested, under heavy protection from the soldiers whose to presence in the country they are expected to assent.

The main counterbalance to the overwhelming power of the occupying government will be gigantic infusions of money from Iran, a neighboring country that has been trying to destablize and manipulate Iraq's government for decades, with the on-again off-again help of the very government currently occupying Iraq. This interference is denounced at great volume by officials of the occupying government as unacceptable meddling in the affairs of a sovreign nation (presumably the sovreign nation of Iraq, not the U.S.)

So, on a scale of one to ten, how free do you think the Iraqi people are going to find their elections? How fair?

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