January 28, 2005

Successful Elections?

Andrew Sullivan asks: "How do we tell if the Iraqi elections are a success?" Oh, I dunno, maybe if less than a thousand people die? How's that for a goalpost?

Sorry, but what more do you want? And what kind of question is this, anyways? It's completely unanswerable. No, high turnout will not constitute a "success," as Sullivan seems to think. Democracies aren't created in a day, and that goes triple for Iraq. Do remember, there's still a thorny constitutional process awaiting the country, one that could easily result in overreach, mistrust, and violence. There's still an extremely volatile situation in Kirkuk that's more than capable of igniting a large-scale war. There's still a massive Baathist insurgency that shows no signs of abating. And there are still fanatical Shiites and fanatical Kurds and fanatical Sunnis all ready to clamor for power at the margins and cause havoc at a moment's notice. The elections won't change any of that.

So we just won't know. The fewer people dead on Sunday the better, but that's about it. Yes, it will be rousing, yes it will be inspiring, yes we'll all hopefully see plenty of images of brave Iraqis defying unimaginable danger and literally risking their lives to cast a vote. But by any sensible standard, there's no way we'll be able to sit back on Sunday evening and say "that was a success" or "that failed".
-- Brad Plumer 6:18 PM || ||