Saturday, January 29, 2005

Zogby's words of wisdom 

Zogby International has conducted an opinion poll in Iraq for Abu Dhabi television. Among the results:
"About 76 per cent of Sunnis say they 'definitely will not vote' in tomorrow's elections... Only nine per cent of Sunnis say they will cast ballots. Conversely, 80 per cent of Shiites, Iraq's majority group, and 57 per cent of Kurds say they will 'likely' or 'definitely' vote...

"The poll showed that 82 per cent of Sunnis and 69 per cent of Shiites want US forces to withdraw 'either immediately or after an elected government is in place'.

"Of Iraq's religious and ethnic groups, only Kurds believe the United States will 'help' Iraq over the next five years, while 49 per cent of Shiites and 64 per cent of Sunnis say the United States will 'hurt' their country."
Comments James Zogby: "There are deep divisions that exist - divisions that are so deep and pronounced that this election, instead of bringing people together, may very well tear them apart." Which leaves us exactly... where? If the election will tear people of Iraq apart, instead of bringing them together, then what of the alternative, which is not holding the election? Wouldn't that cause even greater problems when all the polls clearly show that the great majority want to vote? And if there is no election, what should happen to Iraq in the meantime, as whole nations cannot be put in a medically-induced coma until their internal situation stabilizes.

The only alternative to allowing the people of Iraq to exercise their democratic rights is to return them to a Saddamite status quo where the population is held in check by the sheer brute force and terror by a small ethnically-based minority. I can understand that the realists, with their worship of stability, would long for the return of the olden days (in fact, many of the same people who like to see the Middle East kept stable by the grip of local strongmen, have not that consistently tried to prevent the demise of the "stable" Soviet Union and Yugoslavia), but the sight of so many idealists, mostly on the left, assuming the Kissingerian mantle is truly disconcerting.

Most people in most places want to have a say in who their rulers are. There is only so much the outsiders can do to help stifle that democratic sentiment for the sake of maintaining stability, however well intentioned. Sometimes the transition to democracy happens to be relatively painless and bloodless; often it is not. Deciding which is worse - prolonged oppression or relatively short burst of violence leading to liberation - is an immensly difficult proposition. In the end, the only people who can answer that question are the same people who have and will continue to bear most of the burden of sacrifice - the Iraqi people themselves.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?