The International Action Center – 2005-02-03 08:35:00
The media and the Bush Administration are in high gear, trumpeting this weekend’s election as a victory for democracy. However, this election changes nothing on the ground in Iraq.
On Monday, January 31, the day after the election, the people of Iraq woke up with 150,000 US troops occupying their country, CIA asset Ayad Allawi the appointed head of state, and the Pentagon’s plans to build 14 permanent military bases still proceeding.
Democracy means, “rule of the people.” What happened on Sunday merely continues rule by military occupation and an appointed government. *This was a meaningless election.
This piece of political theater can’t even be accurately described as an election. In an election, voters get to choose candidates who will then hold office and exercise some measure of power. In this election, voters didn’t get to vote for a candidate, or even for a political party. Instead, they were allowed to vote for a list, which may include several parties or individuals — there was no way to know.
These lists were approved by the Bremer-appointed High Commission for Elections. The names of the 7,700 candidates were not publicly available, so there was no way to know who was actually being voted for.
The candidates who are eventually selected by this process will exercise no executive or legislative authority. They will form a transitional national assembly, which will draft a constitution under the supervision of the occupiers.
The people of Iraq were not given the opportunity to vote against the occupation — they were allowed to vote for anonymous lists, representing US-approved candidates that will not have the power to alter US plans to colonize Iraq.
Of course, the people of Iraq want to vote in free and open elections to determine their own future, but the occupation was not on the ballot, rendering any pretense at an election meaningless.
The more than 100,000 people who were killed by the US during this war were not given the opportunity to vote. Nor were the prisoners in the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib.
The True History of Elections in Iraq
It is telling that the Bush Administration is claiming this is the first democratic election to be held in Iraq in 50 years. The election referred to as the last democratic election was held under a US/British-appointed monarchy to select an advisory body that had no executive or legislative power.
Its only function was to provide a façade of legitimacy to the puppet regime; the election did not change the fact that the people of Iraq were under the thumb of US and British oil companies.
Less than three years later, a massive popular revolutionary upheaval overthrew the corrupt monarchy and, since that time, the US and Britain have been trying to return Iraq to the same semi-colonial status. This election is part of their plan.
The US government has never demonstrated any interest in bringing democracy to the Middle East. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger outlined US policy in the region when he said, “Middle East oil is too important to be left to hands of the Arabs.”
The US has made no effort to bring democracy in any of the nations in the region where it has maintained troops — the people of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all live under feudal monarchies, without free elections, civil liberties, civil rights, union rights, or rights for women. *This was an election under occupation.
It is important to emphasize the circumstances under which this election was held. More than 150,000 US troops occupy the country, patrolling the streets with guns trained on the Iraqi people. Throughout Iraq, the US occupation forces imposed an unprecedented series of security measures – including shoot-on-sight curfews, closed borders, and a ban on cars and travel restrictions within Iraq.
This election was held under the supervision of US Ambassador John Negroponte. Negroponte served as US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985 and was involved with Contra terrorists and death squads. While he was Ambassador, Honduras was the launching pad from which the Reagan administration conducted its violent attacks on the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Negroponte’s predecessor, Paul Bremer, set up the rules for this election. The organization that ran the election, the High Commission for Elections, was appointed by Bremer, and had the authority to disqualify any party that did not meet with Washington’s approval.
Before he left his post, Bremer issued a series of articles which cannot be reversed by any election. Many of these articles, which are in violation of international law, have to do with the plundering of Iraq’s resources and control of the economy by US corporations.
No matter what list the Iraqi people voted for, decisions that affect their future are being made by the occupation government under orders from Wall Street.
Assisting Negroponte were two US-funded organizations with long records of manipulating overseas elections on behalf of US corporate interests, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Both organizations work closely with the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Agency for International Development, long used by the CIA for covert operations abroad.
They were, for example, involved in orchestrating the failed coup and recall referendum in Venezuela in an attempt to remove the democratically-elected and popular President Hugo Chavez. Both were involved in manipulating the election in the Ukraine to ensure that a pro-US head of state would be installed.
Similar elections were held during the US war against the people of Vietnam. They were conducted under military occupation, administered by the US, and in no way allowed for any real self-government. None of the US-managed elections in Vietnam succeeded in conferring legitimacy on the occupation government or in ending the resistance. Likewise, this election was conducted at gunpoint, administered by a war criminal, and stage-managed by CIA front companies. To pretend that this has anything to do with democracy is outrageous.
This Election Lacks Credibility
This election was almost unique in that it had no international observers. There was no outside source to monitor the voting, the integrity of the ballots, or the counting. The only monitoring was by observers trained by groups like the National Democratic Institute–in other words, by the CIA.
With no international observers monitoring the election process, the elections are only as credible as the people running it — the Bush Administration, who lied about weapons of mass destruction, lied about ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, lied about everything associated with this war and occupation.
The Election Was a Public Relations Campaign
Opposition to the occupation has been growing in the US Many people, including members of Congress, have begun to demand an end to the occupation.
The election was staged to create the illusion of progress, much like the phony transfer of power held on June 28 of last year. The idea is to create a new fiction to legitimize the occupation. The lies about weapons of mass destruction have been exposed. The lies about the people of Iraq being involved in the attacks on September 11 have been refuted. So now, the Bush Administration is taking up the cause of democracy to justify the ongoing occupation.
The claim that the US needs to bring democracy to Iraq, that the country would descend into civil war without the US presence, is pure racism. It is a rehash of the arguments used by the British Empire and other empires to justify the colonization of entire nations.
Many of those who did vote, took part in the election thinking that it would be part of a process that would lead to ending the occupation of their country. All polls indicate that an overwhelming number of Iraqis want an immediate end to the occupation. Once they realize that the election serves only to justify further occupation and plundering of their country, this will give rise to a new level of outrage and resistance.
The Myth of High Turnout
Despite the media’s claim that turnout was overwhelming, in many areas, polling centers were closed or deserted. Only a handful of people voted in Fallujah, Samarra and Ramadi. Among Iraqis living abroad, 80% of eligible voters did not vote.
This dispels the myth that low turnout was due to security concerns. Turnout was low because the people oppose occupation and recognized that the election was a public relations effort by the occupier of their country.
The Iraqi People Want the Occupation to End
Any real interest in democracy would lead us to recognize that the Iraqi people are opposed to the occupation. Polls have repeatedly shown that the people of Iraq want the troops to leave now–not after they have stage-managed an election and installed a puppet regime.
The growing resistance throughout the country demonstrates how the Iraqi people feel about the occupiers. The occupiers are not there to bring democracy — they have instead brought death, destruction, and torture. The Iraqi people and a growing number of people worldwide want it to end.
March 19 Troops Out Now! March on Central Park in NYC!
Regional Demonstrations Across the US & Worldwide
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