May 30, 2004



The day after John Kerry is elected this November, the media will magically discover:
(i) the "amazing" progress in reconstruction, economic growth and new found freedom that have benefited the people of Iraq;
(ii) that we're winning the war on terror, but strong resolve is still necessary; and
(iii) that the economy is enjoying great (but stable and controlled - not a bubble) growth bringing new levels of prosperity to many Americans.

The media will report the persistence of each of these good time conditions for several years and not cease until the days leading to the inauguration of the next Republican President.


The article is perfectly clear and you seem to have misread it. This sentence tells you exactly what is going on, "The council is one of hundreds set up to promote democracy by giving Iraqis practice in the give and take of local government." No campaigns. No political parties. No stuffing your vote into a ballot box. No democracy.

There is this:

But that's all a quick Googling produced. There's nothing to suggest widespread local elections nor particularly that these councils are freely elected as you assert. This paragragh,

"The program has set up hundreds of local councils, held civic dialogues and presented guidance on topics like the virtues of keeping budget transactions public. National conferences have been held on politics, the rights of the disabled and other subjects. The program has built a staff of about 2,500 Iraqis working as discussion leaders."

reveals that these councils are more accurately described as American organized and overseen assemblies of Iraqis role-playing for the purpose of education. That the ongoing violence makes people apprehensive and pessimistic is captured quite sufficiently and uncontroversially, in my opinion.


Well, I don't know what to tell you, because that contradicts information being put out for some time, that there have been low level elections at the council level all over hte country. The CPA has been trumpeting this for some time, and the military has been overseeing these elections, particularly in rural areas.


Not surprisingly, this is from hte Post, which has been far more willing to present good news:


Surprisingly, this is from the Guardian (and it's a better article.)


I guess it would have been more accurate for me to say "dozens" then "hundreds." It's hard to say though since the cpa is such a complete and total disaster -- everything is organized by date with no search engine, so, you know, thanks for nothing.


The CPA article is informative but confirms much of the Times reporting regarding the nature of the councils and the general sentiment. We don't know if the lack of mention of elections by the Times is because the south Baghdad councils are appointed and/or there was no follow-through with previous elections which may have amounted to nothing. The reason may be for the very matters the article chooses to talk about. There may be no good news to follow up on from elections. That's what the Times implies and that may, in fact, be the reality. I don't find the Times reporting objectionable in the least based on what is known. If there was evidence that the Times was negligent in failing to report what others are, you might have a point. But that's not the case.

Some time ago I had this bright idea that we should adopt a bottom-up approach to transferring sovereignty: local elections and getting out of the way. I'm sure you know the phenomenon of suddenly seeing everywhere what was once hidden once the mind is focused anew. Now, I'm keenly aware of a lot of people talking about rolling elections and sectoral governments as a proposal. But, alas, very little in the way of tangible results.

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