Tuesday, February 15, 2005

If Wishes Were Changes . . .

To quote one our favorite singer/songwriters, Nanci Griffith, “if wishes were changes, we’d all live in roses.”

Mark Hyman notes that Khasro Goran, the vice governor of the Nineveh province in Iraq, recently charged that the Kurdish vote was suppressed in the recent Iraqi elections. After that opening, Hyman bizarrely jumps back in time a full year to quote Goran at length about the possible wonders elections in Iraq might bring.

Apparently Hyman isn’t one for irony.

As we know all too well in this country, holding an election is the easy part of democracy; the hard part is living with the results. A growing number of complaints and concerns have arisen since the polls closed in Iraq two weeks ago, concerns about voter suppression and polling place irregularities (see, they do have American style democracy!). Whether these are based in reality or are ways of expressing frustration with the results is almost beside the point. In either case, the disgruntlement and lack of faith in the election bodes ill for the future of a democratic Iraq, to say nothing of the Middle East in general.

Yet Hyman dusts off a number of antiquated quotations from Goran about the wonders that will be wrought by Iraqi elections, without reconciling these claims with the fact that it’s this same Goran who’s now one of the leading voices questioning the validity of the recent elections.

Moreover, the groundwork hasn’t been laid for a peaceful existence in Iraq. Hyman quotes Goran as saying much of the problems with the insurgency would be solved if Iraqis were provided with jobs. But the U.S. hasn’t even created a reliable domestic security force, provided consistent electrical service, or even begun rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq in any meaningful way. One year after Goran said this, we’re hardly any closer to establishing a self-sufficient Iraqi economy that will generate jobs and personal income.

Hyman closes by suggesting that maybe Iraqi elections will magically transform the country in to a healthy democracy that will create a “domino effect” in the Middle East. Wouldn’t it be nice to think so?
But as of now, the war has cost $200 billion, nearly 1500 American lives, approximately 15,000 American wounded, and between 15 and 20 thousand Iraqi civilian dead, and civil war looks every bit as likely (if not more so) than a healthy democracy that will serve as a beacon of freedom to the rest of the region. The track record of those who’ve made rosy predictions about Iraq isn’t great; remember the talk of being greeted as “liberators,” the flowers and candies that American soldiers would be showered with, the support of our staunch coalition allies, and the rebuilding that would pay for itself with oil revenues?

Of course, perhaps it is we, the American people, who should take the blame for the situation we’re now facing. After all, we collectively voiced strong support for unilaterally invading Iraq in order to democratize it. That was the reason the president said we were invading Iraq . . . wasn’t it?

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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Cost of the War in Iraq
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