Tuesday, 28 September 2004


David Adesnik of OxBlog takes note of today’s David Brooks NYT column arguing—from the historical precedent of El Salvador—that even a flawed “partial” election in Iraq could nonetheless lead to more stability and put the country on the road to democracy. In particular, Adesnik disagrees with Phil Carter’s argument against such a “partial vote.”

One interesting historical example cited by none of the authors is the fact that federal elections were held, as scheduled, in the Union states during the American Civil War. If credible elections could be held in a country undergoing a massive internal rebellion 140 years ago, I don’t see a realistic impediment to a “partial” vote encompassing over 95% of Iraqis—if the number were in the range of 60%, I could see a credible argument against holding elections, but if we’re just talking about Fallujah and a couple of other areas in revolt, I don’t think that’s a meaningful impediment to legitimacy.


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Do you seriously think the insurgency’s going to let Iraqis go to the polls in significant numbers? I get the feeling that the sh*t is a lot deeper there than even the SCLM is letting on….


Well, I think that’s the $5000 question, and I don’t know that there’s an answer to it.

Disrupting a vote is hard: you have to attack a lot of polling places to make a dent in participation. (For example, to completely stop a vote in Jackson, Miss., you’d have to take out about 80 polling places within 12 hours on a single day; Memphis would be harder, due to it being bigger.) It seems the insurgency is powerful enough now to disrupt voting by (say) 20% of the country’s population (wild guess, I know, but it assumes that they don’t have much more manpower than what they’re deploying now, as well as making the assumption that all insurgents want to disrupt the vote—Shiites may actually want a vote, for example), which is about my legitimacy tipping point. But then again the poll is 4 months away, and 4 months is a long time.

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