Monday, October 17, 2005
Get Ready...Brace Yourself...Here It Comes...
The Allegations of Fraud in the Constitutional Referendum
I don't think I've mentioned anywhere before that I was once bitten by a radioactive unrealist rejectionist (he ate some depleted geraniums). This has provided me with uncanny, superhuman powers to predict when a rejectionist is about to say something stupid. I call it Riverbend-sense. I began predicting to friends about a month ago, that if the Constitution seemed likely to pass* those who were hoping it would not pass--
only so that they could claim it was "another Iraqi failure"
--would start shouting FRAUD before the votes were even counted.
* In my heart-of-hearts I suppose I hoped it wouldn't pass. But I'm not living in a country where perceived political stagnation means the possibility of slowing the abatement of car bombs on my streets and foreign troops in my cities. Nor do I have hanging over my head that the foreign troops might leave soon and leave me to the externally and criminally funded Zarqawists and "Saddam's Orphans".
When an unrealist commenter at Baghdad Dweller started laying the ground work about two weeks ago ("the constitution cannot pass and -- in case it does -- there are all these signs that the Shi'ites plan to steal the election"), I knew that sadly I would be vindicated. Now today:
Juan Cole: "Several of my knowledgeable readers [CMAR II says:ha ha ha!] are convinced that the Nineveh voting results as reported so far look like fraud. One suspected that the Iraqi government so feared a defeat there that they over-did the ballot stuffing and ended up with an implausible result."
Sheik Abdul-SalamAl-Kubaisi of The Association of Muslim Scholars: "There is no doubt that America has interfered in the process, since they and the Shiite government are supervising the whole operation, and since both want this draft to pass."
CBS News (reporting): "Sunni leaders responded angrily [to reports that a majority in the Nineveh and Diyala provinces with slim Sunni majorities voted "Yes"], some of them saying they suspected fraud and accusing American officials and the Shiite parties that dominate the government."
My Riverbend-sense is tingling, and I predict Riverbend is already talking to her Ba'athist and Rejectionist friends about how the election was stolen. She is right now contemplating whether to make this allegation on her blog, and how to frame it. (BTW note that this is a "Shi'ite government" only because of the techicality that Shi'ites are 60% of the Iraqi population.)
No actual proof of fraud is necessary. The Americans are there. The Shi'ites are there. The Americans are evil. The Shi'ites are turncoat deviants. They are are up to something nefarious unless they are asleep, and they never sleep, and that's how they keep winning.
When proof is offered it comes down this: 1) Nineveh and Diyala are majority Sunni Arab. No Sunni Arab would vote "Yes" to the constitution, so therefore the results mean that the elections was stolen directly or 2) manipulated by preventing Sunni Arabs from getting to the polls.
1) The assertion that the outcome of an election can be determined by ethnic or religious demographics (while often useful to some extent) is not demonstrable to numerical precision. We've had the same bogus arguments regarding "stolen" elections in the US. The Sunni Arabs in Nineveh (who live in multi-ethnic communities) are not the same as those in Anbar. And Riverbend's presumption that SECULAR Sunni Muslims would of course vote "No" on this "Islamic" constitution is not born out from what I'm reading: Salam Pax and Omar are both secular Sunni Arabs with vastly different outlooks on Iraq. Yet both say they voted "Yes". It was not (apparently) an easy decision for either of them, but that is the way they fell. Apparently, there are more factors that weigh on the minds of secular Sunni Arabs than whether the word "Islam" appears in the constitution or if the country is federalized or not.
2) All the evidence that election was manipulated by a dearth of convenient polling stations or by not telling people where they were) is anecdotal and paranoid; Riverbend mentioned this Saturday. Somehow, this allegation goes, the government (and the Americans of course) figured out a way to place polling stations far from only Sunni neighborhoods and kept the knowledge of where they were only from Sunni Arabs. So the Sunni Arab local government, tribal, and religious leaders were unable to bring this up prior to election day? If not, could it have been that those leaders were (like Riverbend) telling their people prior to the election that "it didn't matter" because the election was a farce?
RantingProf takes on Cole's quote to the Washington Post:
"This thing is an enormous fiasco...[having such a solid Sunni Arab bloc in opposition to the constitution] "really undermines its legitimacy, and this result guarantees the guerrilla war will go on."
Right. Well I don't think anyone thought that the vote was in and of itself going to magically stop the fighting. But given the deal that was brokered, the version that was passed is one that permits modification and amendment. The question is whether the Sunnis have figured out that the way to get a voice is participation, despite the fact that they weren't successful on this vote. The answer to that question will come in December, when we see how many Sunnis participate. But it really isn't clear what kind of exercise in democracy Professor Cole would label a success, (beyond, perhaps, that of Iran and Pakistan where he sets the bar). I guess the constitution wouldn't have been legitimate unless it had failed.
I blush to point out that IraqiPundit has taken on Jually Cole's analysis of the election in much the same vein as me. He says:
...the [real] charges of irregularities are for reasons different from those that Cole mentions. Cole suspects any "yes" vote from a Sunni because in his world, all Sunnis think this way, all Shiites think that, all Kurds think this etc. But life outside Cole's head is different.
[CMAR II has a distant faraway look...and then shivers!]
Sorry I was just imagining what it is like in Juan Cole's head. A dark yet crowded place where every face you meet is Cole's (like that scene in Being John Malkovich).
Anyway, check it out.
PS While you're there, check out the squishy sound as he steps on Cole's analysis of the Zawahiri letter. Then check this out. [CMAR II dances around waving his blog entry like a two-year-old showing off his latest masterpiece.]
I'm often still asked why do I "pick on" that poor woman, Riverbend? "She's not biased against the new Iraq. She's not going out of her way to disparage the government and excuse the terrorists. She's just telling what's happening poor soul." And, I, in so many words, have to carefully explain each time, "Bunk":
Omar at Iraq The Model tells what he knows:
Battery lights are used since the electricial power lines that supply large parts of Baghdad were attacked by terrorists yesterday.
The same day, Riverbend said:
We’ve been having more than the usual power outages. Government officials were saying ‘power problems’, ‘overload’, etc. for the last two days and then suddenly changed their minds today and claimed it was ‘sabotage’. It’s difficult to tell. All we know is that large parts of Baghdad are literally in the dark. We’re currently on generator electricity.
See? One would presume from what Riverbend says, that today is no different from everyday and that the reports of the terrorist activities was limited to one word: "sabotage". But that's not true, is it? And that is why one should beware of the crocodile tears shed by this Ba'athist princess, cast down from her ivory IT tower.