Conversely, the Iraqi secular democrats backed most strongly by the Bush administration lost big. During his State of the Union address last year, Bush invited Adnan Pachachi, a longtime Sunni politician and then-president of the Iraqi Governing Council, to sit with first lady Laura Bush. Pachachi’s party fared so poorly in the election that it won no seats in the national assembly.
And current Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, backed by the CIA during his years in exile and handpicked by U.S. and U.N. officials to lead the interim government, came in third. He addressed a joint session of Congress in September, a rare honor reserved for heads of state of the closest U.S. allies. But now, U.S. hopes that Allawi will tally enough votes to vie as a compromise candidate and continue his leadership are unrealistic, analysts say.
“The big losers in this election are the liberals,” said Stanford University’s Larry Diamond, who was an adviser to the U.S. occupation government. “The fact that three-quarters of the national assembly seats have gone to just two [out of 111] slates is a worrisome trend. Unless the ruling coalition reaches out to broaden itself to include all groups, the insurgency will continue — and may gain ground.” ~The Washington Post
Mr. Diamond’s comment is accurate, as far as it goes, except that the defeat of the “liberals,” whether we mean to define this in the sense of One World globalist, managerial liberals or those who actually desire some form of constitutional, “rational” government, has been a foregone conclusion in any country where mass democracy prevails. It is customary in histories of late nineteenth century Europe to encounter a similar ‘lament’ for the failure of liberalism, except that this usually ignores the fact that liberalism’s claims to greater ‘rationality’ and superior political morality had no meaning for the vast majority of newly enfranchised people (and were often simply tendentious nonsense), for whom liberalism generally meant social and economic distress and the cultural antagonism of a presumptuous, ‘reforming’ elite.
Besides, in Iraq, where have these liberals and secular democrats been for the last decade? They were hiding in Britain or the United States, receiving comfy stipends from their real masters, while the leaders of the victorious Shi’i and Talabani Kurdish slates were there in Iraq, at the very least experiencing some of the same risks, if not as many of the deficiencies, of their followers. Iraqi voters, to the extent that they were even behaving like individual voters and not responding to social imperatives of kinship, sect and faith, have attached themselves to those to whom they have natural affinities, against which the pathetic claim of liberalism of any kind has no power. Liberalism triumphs only where people are uprooted, disconnected from their past and kin and educated in a manner that encouraged self-hatred about one’s own identity, and there are no more fiercely anti-liberal and illiberal people (and I do not mean this as a criticism) than those who have retained those connections and identity.
All of this bodes ill for Iraqi stability, but it might suggest that Iraqi politics is ironically on a more sane foundation, viewed in this anti-liberal way, than our own. That is not to say that “democracy” will be a success–probably quite the opposite. Post-independence Greece experienced a similar division in the 1830s over the role of the foreign-educated, Western-backed elites taking the reins of government, provoking Theodoros Koloktronis’ ill-fated rebellion on behalf of indigenous Greek political leadership in the Peloponesse that represented a cultural mentality not as overtly hostile to the Orthodox Christian heritage of Greece as the products of Paris and German universities and their “philhellene” friends were. Koloktronis lost, but that dichotomy between a reflexively pro-Western, liberal faction and a more royalist faction committed more closely to the indigenous culture of the country would lead, once WWI began, to more than a half century of coups, countercoups and civil wars that stunted and hurt Greece’s development terribly.
And this was in Greece, a country that enjoyed much closer connections and experience with the West and which possessed a conservative religious tradition that was nonetheless far more amenable to the development of representative government and liberal politics than is Shi’i Islam. As in Greece, it is not entirely clear that it would better for Iraqis if the liberals and secular democrats ever won.
The elections are, of course, not very meaningful as a real reflection of the strength of “democracy” in Iraq, in no small part because “democracy” is not really the U.S. policy’s main goal, as Justin Raimondo has expressed so well. They are not meaningful, except that they will probably be remembered as the spark that ignited greater civil unrest and violence. Nonetheless, that road to unrest and violence has been made all the smoother by the direct politicisation of ethnicity, sect and religious fundamentalism. I want to stress that this is the fault of democracy to the extent that it has been allowed to exist in Iraq, and not attachment to ethnicity, sect or religion as such: on their own terms, these things are often quite good and healthy attachments, but when they become the cheap symbols and slogans of demagogues they are turned into some of the ugliest and worst fanaticism. Naturally this was unforeseen by the Bush administration, as it has no grasp of what these loyalties really mean or how powerful they really are beyond their own limited use of religion and national pride as props in their absurd performance during elections.