The Tale of two elections!
As I mentioned in a previous post, the success of the Palestinian democratic election signaled the beginning of the end for Hamas influence on the Palestinian political process and hopefully the peace process, as more Palestinians realize that following people that urge them to blow themselves up won't get them anywhere but dead. I also mentioned how it gave me hope when it came to the upcoming Iraqi elections. I viewed them both in identical light: two democratic elections in 2 middleeastern countries that suffer from foreign troop presence and the recent removal of a leader that didn't really have the best interest of his people above his own! Given the similarities, you can forgive me for thinking that if one of them worked, then logically the other will also work. Right? Nope, it's not that simple. Things never are over here in the APU. To my utter shame of not seeing this first myself , Christopher Hitchens explains here why the 2 elections are not the same, but why there may still be a point of comparing and contrasting them: Faced with different forms of occupation and dispossession, Palestinians opted for different tactics. Some of them, in Israel "proper," elected serious MPs to the Knesset, usually men of leftist and secular backgrounds. Others, in the territories, pursued various strategies of civil resistance, very often non-violent as in the case of the highly mobilized first intifadah of the early and mid-1980s. Still others, exiled permanently, resorted to kamikaze-type attacks on Israel but also to attacks on civilians and, most opprobriously of all, to indiscriminate attacks on the citizens of other nations. Many of the criminals in the latter category were paid agents or clients of Arab dictatorships, as was Arafat himself. Sheer disaster began to loom when, under the influence of militant Islam, the kamikaze style was imported especially to Gaza and took the form of suicide-murder, often in Israel itself as well as the occupied areas. But that did not begin to happen until the occupation had persisted for more than a quarter of a century. Contrast this with Iraq, where the contras of the old regime, and their imported jihadist allies, went straight for violence as a first resort and behaved as cruelly and indiscriminately as they knew how. The offices of the United Nations, of the Red Cross, of senior clergymen, of civilian dissidents and educators, and of newspapers were blown up using city diagrams and secret police information as well as the arsenal of a collapsed regime that had been found guilty under every version of international law. No attempt was made to claim that violence was an inescapable option after a long denial of legitimate protest: The killing had been planned before the first interim government had even found a voice, and it targeted Iraqi and Kurdish democrats from the very beginning. The tactics, and the personnel, were and are taken directly from the program and the cadres of a former despotism and from the enthusiasts for the Taliban and al-Qaida. Reports seem to suggest that almost 70 percent of the Palestinians turned out to vote. Given the gruesome local exigencies, and the grudging way in which the Israelis allowed freedom of movement, this cannot possibly translate into a 30 percent endorsement of the call for a boycott by Hamas and by Islamic Jihad. One might award them 20 percent at best: roughly the proportion of Sunni Muslims in Iraq who don't want to have their future (or anyone else's) determined by ballot. Should one have postponed a Palestinian vote until these violent rejectionist forces were all "on board"? Yeah, seriously, why do the Shia leaders care so much about the Sunnis participating? I mean, they seem to not want a democracy just because they may not stay in control anymore and therefore chose to support an insurgency that pretty much kills their own people and gives the American troops a reason( or an excuse if you are anti-US) to stay there even longer! Why bother with them at all? They have a choice to participate; if they don't want to, its their own fault and they can only have theirselves to blame. I understand that it may look better if they did, but it will still be a valid election even if they didn't participate. More then half of the US citizens don't vote at all, does that make the elections less valid or democratic? He then asks a very interesting question: Now apply this to Iraq. I turn on my laptop in the morning and briefly clench my eyes shut because I am afraid of reading about the slaughter of a friend. Not just of an American or British serviceman friend, but of an Iraqi or Kurdish friend. Some mornings, the news has been awful. Last Tuesday it brought the tidings of the murder of Hadi Salih, the international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, who was bound and gagged, tortured, and strangled with an electric cord. His politics were, I would guess from mutual friends, about the same as those of Mustapha Barghouti. In an election, he might well have cast his vote for a party that was against the Coalition. A somewhat "old-fashioned" kind of leftist comrade, in other words, but a huge moral and political superior of the fascists and theocrats who did him in. Now he will never vote. What will it take the affectless "anti-war," soft-on-"insurgency" Left to see that this is all the difference in the world? Gee, i wonder! Does anyone want to answer that? Ahem*MaGdee* Ahem! Excuse me, my throat kinda hurts today! And now for the perfect ending: The so-called "insurgency" in Iraq does not have a tithe of the historic justification for the resistance in Palestine. Nor can it ever hope to speak, even by proxy, for an Iraqi majority. (To take just one overlooked example, the majority of Kurds are formally Sunni.) Its conduct is a continuation of a reign of terror that lasted three decades. Its victory would mean misery and death on a colossal scale. It and its murderers must and will be worn down, by sheer, adamant intransigence. The newly elected leader of the Palestinians has said to the suicide-mongers, in effect, Do not be the last ones to die for a mistake. This message will be driven home in Iraq, as well. Amen!