Former CIA and National Security Council maven Ken Pollack recently filed a Brookings report on the struggle to form a government [Pollack is Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution].
The report devotes the first 2,000 words to a description of the multi-party negotiations which are the consequence of proportional representation — the system of government forced upon Iraq by the UN “experts”. This is the same ivory tower design that has prevented strong Israeli governments. It has created a political nightmare for Iraq.
It is pointless to try to summarize Ken’s report. I will just highlight this excerpt from his conclusions:
The 2010 Iraqi elections have the potential to be the most important that the country has ever had and will ever have. Neither the people nor the politicians face the overwhelming pressures of civil war any longer. The political system is not mature, but neither is it newborn. The people have made clear that they want change, and they expected these elections to produce that change. Consequently, the precedents set in this election will endure for a long time to come. Moreover, Iraq’s political system remains fairly fluid, but it could harden very quickly—and especially if the wrong principles prevail in its wake. For all of these reasons, it seems likely that this election will define the Iraqi political system for decades to come.
It is for this reason that the United States, and all other countries whose vital interests are on the line in Iraq, must pay particular attention to the final outcome of this election. Whatever else they want, the Iraqi public has made clear that they want representative, transparent government; they want political leaders responsive to the needs of their constituents; they want effective, technocratic governance; they want greater secularism and less sectarianism; they want the rule of law. Consequently, there is a great danger in allowing the perception to take hold that the election was “stolen” in the politicking that followed it. Many Iraqis will become disillusioned, others will get angry. Whole communities might seek to distance themselves from the central government, or to support violence against the government again. Indeed, it continues to remain the case that the most likely alternative to continued progress toward democratization in Iraq (no matter how slow and fitful) is an eventual return to civil war.
In a similar vein, the outcome of this election will likely have a profound impact on American interests in Iraq. The extent to which Iraq remains on a democratizing path is likely to be a key consideration in the extent to which the United States remains supportive of Iraq. It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Iraq is veering toward greater authoritarianism and sectarianism and the United States remains wholly supportive. Similarly, the extent to which the outcome of the election, the post-election maneuvering, and then the new government’s ability to govern will determine whether Iraq avoids sliding back into civil war. This, in turn, creates another critical interest for the United States. Finally, the extent to which the United States can remain an active participant in Iraq’s political development, helping to keep it on the right path toward stability, prosperity and pluralism is also likely to be shaped, if not determined, by the outcome of these events. Again, the more democratic, representative and secular the new government, the more willing the United States will be to help it, and the more amenable to American advice and assistance the Iraqi government is likely to be. Conversely, the more authoritarian and sectarian the new government is, the less it will be open to American influence and the more it will attempt to block the United States and keep it out of Iraqi affairs.