Friday, January 28, 2005

Lebanese News Outlet: Insurgents are "Real Enemies" in Iraq

Writing today (actually, almost yesterday now in Lebanon) in The Daily Star, Abdul Aziz Said and Benjamin Jensen effectively encapsulate the US strategy in holding democratic elections in Iraq.
The current push toward elections in Iraq on Sunday, despite the resiliency and depth of the insurgency, is indicative of a strategy for using the processes and institutions of democracy as a form of conflict management. The idea is to exploit elections as a means of reconciling competing social interests to shift the plane of conflict from violent confrontation to democratic bargaining.
Said and Jensen conclude with a suggested revision of the election process that is probably too late to implement.
We believe that elections can be used to disrupt the insurgent strategy, but only if they are truly inclusive. The burden of legitimacy needs to be placed squarely upon the insurgents. The interim Iraqi authorities should move to propose a "conditionality amendment," whereby if a district has less than 50 percent turnout, elections in that district must be postponed for at least 30 days while the district's seat is held open. If there is a low voter turnout due to fears of violence, citizens will clearly know who the real enemy is. They will look upon the empty seats of their representatives in a future Iraqi parliament and wonder why some of their countrymen are denying them participation in the political process.
One hopes that, even absent this revision, Iraqis will recognize "who the real enemy is."