U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer

The U.S. seems to have exported “Catch-22”:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/04/international/middleeast/04CENS.html to Iraq:

bq.. BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 3 : Iraqi census officials devised a detailed plan to count the country’s entire population next summer and prepare a voter roll that would open the way to national elections in September. But American officials say they rejected the idea, and the Iraqi Governing Council members say they never saw the plan to consider it.

The practicality of national elections is now the subject of intense debate among Iraqi and American officials, who are trying to move forward on a plan to give Iraqis sovereignty next summer. *As the American occupation officials rejected the plan to compile a voter roll rapidly, they also argued to the Governing Council that the lack of a voter roll meant national elections were impractical.*

The American plan for Iraqi sovereignty proposes instead a series of caucus-style, indirect elections.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric, is calling for national elections next June, not the indirect balloting specified in the American plan for turning over control of the country. But American officials, and some Iraqis say the nation is not ready for national elections, in part because the logistics are too daunting.

p. No census, no voter rolls, no voter rolls, no direct elections. What’s the story? Aren’t there enough Diebold machines available yet to produce the outcome the Bush Administration desires in Iraq?

It’s amazing when the puppet-master doesn’t even trust the puppet. First, the Governing Council wasn’t given any advance input on how to spend the $20 billion U.S. taxpayers are contributing to reconstructing Iraq. Now we learn that the IGC was never consulted about holding a census.

Not content with their general record in the employment arena, the Bush Administration seems *determined to put satirists out of work* as well.

via “Daily Kos: Remind Us Again What the Governing Council Supposedly Does …”:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2003/12/4/17282/9729

Iraq under Saddam, like all other police states, had extremely detailed records on the Iraqi people, and managed to conduct polls, rigged as they were. Not only that, there are other records still available:

bq. There apparently is an up to date population enumeration: the Oil for Food Progam household ration information. Apparently it is intact and quite accurate. Some IGC person suggested it be used instead of a full census in order to handle that all-important first election in a timely manner.

Of course the idea was rejected by the Occupation Office of All Things.

4 thoughts on “U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer”

  1. KO,

    Let me pose a question: which of these statements do you agree with more?

    1) Elections should be held when democratic institutions are capable of holding an election where a party is voted in to power.

    2) Elections should be held when democratic institutions are capable of holding an election where a party is voted out of power.

    Just because a vote could be taken does not mean that it should. “One person one vote” is not the first step to democracy, it is the icing on the cake.

    That said, if Bremmer is playing games with a census then I’m disappointed, this isn’t the way things should be handled.

    Should democratic institutions be grown bottoms up, as in America? Or top down, as the French tried to do after their revolution? Hmm… could have something to do with the fact that France is running Republic 5.0 SP1, while we’re still on Constitution 1.1 SP3 beta…

    That these questions remain relevant for Pakistan as well for Iraq is something we’ve discussed before.

  2. Ideally, it would be nice if Iraq could first build strong democratic instutitions like a functioning jucidary, a working bureaucracy, a proper police force etc. A democracy cannot function without these basics. But in the absence of a democratic environment can these institutions be established?

    The problem is not what I think, the problem lies with the conflicting statements of the Bush Administration. Now that Bush has said that the US will have a functioning democracy in place by August, they might as well do it properly with elections. This is a big change from the earlier ‘plan’ in which the US was going to Nation build for a few years then have elections etc.

    Both America and France had strong men to lead their respective countries onto a democratic path amongst much strife. Iraq doesn’t seem to have any such man today, but leaders can rise up from the most unlikely place. In the end, democracy has to come from within a country.

  3. I’ve been reading some Iraqi blogs (messopotamiam, healing iraq) and apparently the judiciary is functioning – to the extent they want to start putting some baathists on trial. This seems to be a bigger deal with them than when they get to vote.

    Iraq had a bunch of natural leaders. Saddam had a special leadership mentoring program for them. We know where most of them are. Iraqis are digging them up out of the ground every day.

    Yes, the plans have changed. I honestly don’t know what Bremmer was thinking, it was obvious from the begining that the coalition had months, not years, to get a legitimate Iraqi government in place. So the plans have changed to something more along the lines of what should have been announced in the first place.

    A democratic republic needs a rule of law, protection for the rights of minorities, and a mechanism by which the consent of the governed is obtained. A series of caucus style indirect elections is not automatically without legitimacy when it comes to the requrement of obtaining the consent of the governed.

  4. Hopefully some leaders will arise in Iraq. However, my point in my “orginal comment”:http://www.command-post.org/2_archives/009040.html was the suprising number of people who approve of Bush’s handling of Iraq. Their plans (or lack of) have proved a major stumbling block on the road to a stable (if not democratic) Iraq.

    Anyone who can put up Chalabi as a ‘respected Iraqi politician’ gets a zero percent rating. Not to mention the other politicians the Pentagon has been courting. They had to be on crack or something to have been pushing those idiots for so long. The State department, which does have a number of experts on the Middle East was completely sidelined and ignored. That does not inspire faith in the US’s ability to deal with a country when they cannot even rely on their own people. If they can sideline the State department… well it’s a lot easier to ignore the Iraqi’s themselves, which the handpicked Puppet Council has been complaining about these days.

    As to a series of caucus style indirect elections, we had those in Pakistan not so long ago. (Along with direct elections). We’ve got a elected government, with no power whatsoever. Even with the best of US intentions, it’s likely that Iraq will end up the same boat, with the difference being that instead of a local dictator, they have the US Army calling the shots when it really matters.

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