Tuesday :: Jul 20, 2004

This is Democracy in Iraq


by soccerdad

According to Bush we are there to bring democracy to the Middle East. One thing that has puzzled me was the number of attacks on local officials including city council members. Today, I stumbled across what appears to be at least a partial explanation. In addition it clear points out that the US is only interested in democracy if that democracy fully supports US intentions.

Instead of elections at the local level, we had selections.

North Carolina-based Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, which won a $167 million United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contract to "foster efficient, transparent, and accountable sub-national government that supports the country's transition to sovereignty" in 180 Iraqi cities and towns.

Here's a brief description of how the process worked. Posters were displayed around the town seeking names of people for the town council. An 8 man council appointed by the troops vetted all the names. 100 people from the list then got to vote on who would sit on the council.

The system appeared to be deliberately mixing the idea of public participation (anyone could submit names) with a degree of voting (limited to those who had been vetted from the list of submitted names). Everything, however, had to be approved by the military before any final authority was awarded.

The occupation authorities hoped that would then allow them to create a new five-tier council system, which would not reject the American overseers. These neighborhood councils would select district councils, which in turn would select county councils, which would select a provincial council, which, finally, would select a governor.

Now the Iraqis believing they were free to run their own affairs didn't wait for RTI and ran their own elections.

But in late June, most of the U.S. military commanders, such as Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, and the one in charge of the northern half of Iraq, ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in favor of U.S. military-appointed city councils.

..........

"The new mayors do not have to be perfect. But I think that by allowing us to establish our own governments, many of the problems today would be solved. If you ask most Iraqis today if they have a government, they will tell you, no, what we have is an occupation, and that is a dangerous thing for the people to think.”

The article provides much detail and examples has to how the RTI process works, why people ignored it and why its may be in danger of failure.

For me the last paragraph told me what I have suspected for a long time. It also confirms what the Iraqis have assumed, i.e. the US is only interested in democracy if it serves its own purpose.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. appointed director of Iraq's occupation was more candid, telling an interviewer: "I'm not opposed to it, but I want to do it in a way that takes care of our concerns... Elections that are held too early can be destructive. It's got to be done very carefully. ·In a situation like this, if you start holding elections, the people who are rejectionists tend to win."

Thats US policy in a nutshell

soccerdad :: 6:20 AM :: Comments (20) :: Digg It!