Iraqi elections - what of they elect a Ba'athist?

The Iraqis have been promised free and fair elections by the US/UK. The Bosnian Serbs too were promised these, but if they elect somebody the UN satrap disapproves of, the election is nullified and the elected person removed from office. In short, they have to vote till they get it right. Will this be the pattern for Iraq?

They plan to put Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris in charge of counting the ballots. It WILL come out right.

I think you’ve touched on one of the difficulties inherent in “creating” democracy in a country that has experienced nothing but tyranny for a generation. I’ve heard it said that the Iraqi people will now be able to choose their leaders. That’s nice, but how will they know who they want to be their leaders? It’s not as if the opposition has been running political ads for the last few years, laying out their positions and showing the shining faces of their candidates.

The Iraqi people, at this stage of the game, when they think of “leaders,” probably can’t imagine anyone other than Ba’ath party officials or religious leaders. I’m not saying they’re somehow to blame for this - it’s just a consequence of living in a dictatorship. Suitable, moderate, enlightened candidates are certainly there, but the public can’t be expected to have any idea who they are.

The only workable approach is, of necessity, a gradual one. The average Iraqi probably has a fair notion of who, in his immediate neighborhood, would be a good person to represent his interests, so you could put together units of small, local government fairly quickly. Setting up truly democratic provincial and national governments, however, will take much longer. You need to wait long enough for leaders to emerge from the local governments, and for the voters to gain some familiarity with them. 'Tain’t simple!

Ba’athist aren’t allowed to participate. We’re going to let the Iraqi’s choose who they want to have in power after the US military leaves and after the Interim Government has “fulfilled its mission”.
In the mean time, the Iraqi National Congress, Rumsfeld’s favorites, have been named as the “core of the new Iraqi Army”, and have an agreement with US forces to get ALL of the weapons confiscated during the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
But it’s firmly maintained thatthis won’t give them a distinct advantage over homegrown groups like the multi-party coalition group known “The Group of Four” who are vying for influence in post-war Iraq.

More than likely the Victors will be (re?)Writing the Iraqi constitution so that even in a free democracy neither Ba’athists nor religious based parties will be legal. That way they dont have to worry about a extremist fundamentalist government being voted in or another Ba’ath party.

I doubt that either Jeb Bush of Katherine Harris have ever counted, or were in charge of counting any ballots in their entire life. Are you perhaps referring to the collective and independently elected county election boards of the state of Florida?

Do I have to accept the premise of the question?

I don’t because, first, many Baathist loyalists are either dead, in Syria, in hiding, or in bunkers soon to be dead.

Second, the nation is too fractured and it’s therefore demographically unlikely that a Baathist would ever win national office in a fair election. Shiites aren’t going to vote Baathist. Kurds in the North aren’t either.

Third, the Baath party–as others have noted–won’t be one of the choices. I would suggest modifying the topic to be an Islamic nationalist party that is not the Baath Party. I don’t know if another actually exists in Iraq,* but one certainly might.

*Probably not with any acknowledged living members with tongues.

Since right now they are shooting the Ba’athists, I seriously doubt they will be voting for them in an election. However, I don’t think they will end up with anything like what we call a democracy. Go read Collounsbury’s thread to find out why.

And there’s the flaw of the OP.

I’ll wager good money that “democracy” in a post-Saddam Iraq will turn out to be “your choice of one of these American-approved candidates.” The Administration wouldn’t want an Iraqi leader who may do something radical, like nationalize the oil fields…

As Beagle says it’s unlikely that Iraqis will vote in large numbers for a Baathist party or that one would even be allowed to participate in elections. A more likely possibility is some kind of radical Shia party.

And this is indeed one of the dangers which it is hard to see how the US plans to deal with. You can hope that such a group won’t arise and gain popularity but if it does there will be little that the US can do especially in the long run.

Only time will tell rjung but let’s hope you are wrong. Collounsbury says that under your scenario, we will end up with another Egypt, which he says will soon be in major trouble. :frowning:

Look, an election can be free and fair without being open to absolutely anyone. In Japane after WWII, we dismantled old naitonalistic goups and broke their power. And we pretty much forced out anyone we liked.

We had an advantage then in that we could work through a reasonably honest national government, whiel this time we’ll have to build one up again. On the other hand, we have a lot more cooperation from the locals than in Japan. In some ways, I expect the Iraqis have a more realistic understanding of who we are and what we want. And we don’t have to dick around with the Imperial Court, either.

So, no, it won’t be totally free. Donald Duck ain’t winning no matter how many people vote for him. Nevertheless, The Ba’athists don’t have a large base of support. They were never more than a regional party gone national.

There is more a danger of Ba’athists trying to get elected in Tikrit, though. I expect we’ll have military governorship there a little longer than elsewhere.

I’m going to have to agree with Collounsbury somewhat. Democracy is not going to come easily to Iraq. I’ve said right from the beginning that I thought the U.S. was going to be there for a long time. I originally envisioned a direct coalition government, hopefully with UN participation, for several years, followed by a semi-permanent peacekeeping force.

This is difficult to achieve because Arab Nationalism will recoil at any foreign occupation. So it’s going to be a very tricky transition. Time has to pass - time during which the various regional factions can begin to work together under an umbrella which prevents factionalism from turning violent. Time for children to go to school and learn something other than Ba’athist propaganda. Time for the economy to recover, and for the living standard of the average Iraqi to increase enough that they do not need to feel hopeless.

India took a long, LONG time to transition to a Democracy. Hopefully, we can avoid the worst mistakes the British made, and be better governors.

It’s not going to be easy. Trying to impose a democracy before the liberal institutions necessary for Democratic society are in place will just lead to another strongman - most likely an Islamic theocracy. That’s not a good result.

Iraq needs to start with local rule. Very soon control of the cities can be turned over to locals - it’s already happened in Basra. A constitution needs to be formed, and it needs to be in place long enough for people to believe in it - to believe that fair justice exists, and that just because a rival clan won the last election the law won’t change.

After local rule is established, and the economy is moving forward, regional governorships should be developed in the Kurdish, Shi’ite, and Sunni regions. I think the ultimate form of an Iraqi government will be a loose Republic with substantial autonomy for each region.

The next step will be tougher - getting the regions to come together peacefull and work together in the interests of the nation as a whole. To that end, Iraqis need to develop a nationalist pride - a love of their country that transcends love of their region. Without that, you’ll wind up with a civil war eventually.

This is going to be difficult because of the clannish nature of Arab society. We in the west tend to put our loyalty into institutions and countries. That is far more alien to Arabs. Notice how fluid borders are in the Arab world, and how indentity with various groups often transcends borders as if they weren’t there. The reason there’s a problem with Kurds in Turkey is because the Kurds see themselves as Kurds first, and Turks a distant second.

So it’s not going to be easy. We can take comfort in one thing - ANY likely result is better than Saddam, and there’s a good chance that we’ll wind up with at least a benevolent constitutional monarchy or something - there are plenty of those in the Middle East.

And the U.S. can even tolerate radical Islamic regimes, so long as they learn to coexist with the U.S. Bin Ladenism is not equal to Fundamentalism - there are plenty of clerics out there who would love a peaceful settlement with the west, and who oppose the tactics of Bin Laden, even if they sympathize with his complaints.

The Iraqi oil industry was nationalized in 1972.

It’s quite possible that some ex-Ba’athists will end up in the gov’t if and when fully free elections are held. That’s one of the problems with democracy. I do fear that once we take the training wheels off, it won’t be too long before there’s another strongman in power. Let’s hope he’s more of the Musharif variety rather than the Saddam type.

IMO, we need to maintain a presence in Iraq through the first election to insure the election is legitimate(please, no Florida 2000 jokes). After that, if they elect a Ba’athist, oh well. I don’t think it will happen, and I’d be quite dissapointed if they did, but it’s their country. part of establishing democracy is abiding by the decision of the people.

Yeah, and this week the U.S. sent in an army to overthrow the guy. See what happens? :wink: