Stewart on the Iraqi elections

The Daily Show’s take on the Iraqi elections:

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I agree with Stewart’s central point here: that since the ill-conceived 2003 invasion of Iraq the U.S. government’s definition of success has changed drastically, from one of a highly-functional, unified Middle Eastern liberal democracy to that of a relatively stable (not necessarily purely democratic or liberal) state with minimum levels of insurgent violence.

However, I have one caveat to this segment. I think too often attitudes of Iraq in this country oscillate between two partisan extremes—those who view it as an impressive success story with only positive news ahead and those who view it as a predetermined swamp of nihilism, destined to everlasting violence and instability.

The truth, of course, lies in between. Based upon where Iraq was in recent years past, this election was a “success.” I base this claim on a number of reasons:

  1. Unlike in Afghanistan’s recent elections, insurgent violence did not deter voting across the country on a significant scale.
  2. The insurgent violence that did occur was not representative of a large scale civil war between sectarian militias (which Iraq experienced between Sunni and Shia Arabs from 2004 to 2007) but rather of ideological elements most of the country stands united against (Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, various neo-Baathist groups and a few Sufi insurgent groups aligned with the Baathist groups)
  3. Iraqi national and local institutions (including its media and interest groups) continue to grow (for the most part) in comparison to the last seven years.

This is not all to say that Iraq is now a startling success and a vindication of Bush’s policies. It in no way is. Iraq could very well fall into anarchic violence, civil war between Arab-Kurd or Sunni-Shia (again) or into a new form of authoritarianism. The point is: neither a future of startling success nor one of unending chaos is set in stone for Iraq. No one knows what will happen. But, knowing that the future remains unwritten means that all parties with the power to act still have the opportunity to work toward the best outcome in Iraq.

Otherwise, the segment is hilarious.


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