Friday, February 04, 2005

The tragedy of the election in Iraq

Two quotes from ITN's Julian Manyon on the Iraqi election (which I found on the blog Critical Montages; my emphasis):

"Well, I assume the point that is being got at here is really whether the violence is getting in the way of us covering this story, and I'm afraid to say it is, but it's not the only factor getting in the way of us covering the story.

To try to get some understanding of what lay behind Christiane's remarks just now - in other words, the scale of the turnout and the validity or otherwise of these elections, the violence is obviously a major deterrent for journalists doing their jobs.

You know, I have been out in the last couple of days a couple of times, but one goes out fearfully in the knowledge that one might either be shot at or in the extreme worst case - one prays it will never happen - actually kidnapped.

Beyond that, it must be said, there is also another wide range of factors which are actually preventing journalists from covering this election properly, and one of those factors, for example, is the way in which the American handlers who are actually running the Ministry of Information's affairs here in real terms, have designed the whole thing. I would say that along with the violence, it is just as serious an impediment for journalists.

Why, for example, we've been limited to filming at only five polling stations, and we discovered when the list of the five polling stations was published that four of those five polling stations are actually in Shia areas, and therefore by definition will shed very little light on whether Sunnis vote or not."


and:

". . . it's disturbing quite frankly because it's very difficult to see how these elections can live up to international standards in terms of dispassionate supervision and policing of the polls. There are no international observers out there for the same reason that there are very few journalists out there. And the journalists that are, I suppose, one has to say either courageous or mad enough to get in their cars and try to do something are only going to see a small fraction of what is going on.

I mean, we've got a situation in Mosul, for example, where American troops, we now discover because the Iraqi employees of the election organization have deserted en masse, it's American soldiers who will be transporting the ballot boxes around when they are full of votes. This is really very far from ideal, and if it were happening in any other country - I mean, one could mention Ukraine, for example - there would be a wild chorus of international protest."


Election coverage limited by American handlers to five heavily guarded polling stations selected by the handlers; voting boxes transported by American soldiers; no international monitoring or even coverage by journalists; an election run by ex-Saddam henchman Allawi, convicted fraudster Chalabi, and the serial liars in the Pentagon . . . this is supposed to be the election which validates the illegal attack on Iraq as well as Bush's entire program of hiding violent American imperialism under the guise of 'freedom'? Remember, the American spin depends entirely on the 'courageous' Iraqis endorsing Bush's illegal war by going out to vote. The original statement that the turnout was 72% was immediately admitted to be a fabrication, and the later guess of 60% is equally suspect. We don't know, and we'll never know, what the real turnout was, as the people monitoring the election are entirely controlled by the Americans. Frankly, the turnout is as likely to be 5% as it is to be 60%. Leaving aside the fact that the Iraqis who did vote did so for various motives embarrassing to the American occupiers - the establishment of a Shi'ite theocracy, the removal of the American troops, or the mundane hope that a locally controlled government just might be able to do what the Americans apparently can't do, restore the electricity - this farce of an election proves nothing about Iraq, but a lot about the United States. It proves that by staging the form of an election, the Bush Administration is able to magically sanitize its most evil acts in the eyes of the American public and American public writers and commentators. The most tragic element of this election is that writers who call themselves moderates or progressives are now starting to write that this election validates the entire Bush world-view. Resistance is now futile, and there is officially no American opposition to the Bush warmongers. If such an obviously questionable election can make the worst war crimes right, Bush is out of control and the whole world is in great peril.

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