"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq interim prime minister declared Wednesday that the success of the national elections had dealt a major blow to the insurgents -- who have not carried out a major attack since the balloting -- and he predicted they will be defeated within months."
Vietnam flash back.
"The Joint Chiefs of Staff are increasingly mindful that our fortunes in South Vietnam are an accurate barometer of our fortunes in all of Southeast Asia.
It is our view that if the US program succeeds in South Vietnam it will go far toward stabilizing the total Southeast Asia situation."
-January 22, 1964, the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense Robert Strange [Love] McNamara.
Election day in Iraq.
Bush and Co., of course, have taken full credit for the election. Another mandate! Peter Baker and Robin Wright say in the Post:
"Whatever happens next, the pictures of Iraqi voters streaming to the polls and holding up ink-stained fingers to show they had cast their ballots will go down as one of the defining images of his ambitious project to introduce democracy to the Middle East."
[If only we knew what actually happened that might be true.]
A.P. reports "Three days after the balloting, the Iraqi election commission has still not released any results or turnout figures, promising them with a week." [I'll hold my breath.]
The WaPo reported:
"As U.S. officials toured the city Sunday, several privately asked colleagues how different the last two years in Iraq might have been if the invasion force had been able to secure Baghdad after taking it.
"Yeah," said one U.S. official, "maybe they wouldn't have looted the whole [expletive] place, not to put too fine a point on it."
"I'm always attracted to the statement of [Winston] Churchill's that you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing -- after they try everything else," the official said."
Of course, we all know the insurgents are defeated and this is another one of those "turning points," like the capture of Saddam and the "transfer of power," so it is no wonder we had..."
"...To put every possible uniform on the street, the interim government canceled all leaves for police officers and soldiers and offered the police extra pay to stick around.
U.S. forces stockpiled supplies at the dozens of American bases around the country, to deny insurgents the easy targets of convoys on election day.
Aircraft were deployed en masse. The skies over the capital buzzed with U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and F-18A fighter jets..."
[Was this Baghdad or D.C?]
"As a final touch, Iraq's new army rolled out its armor. On election day, Soviet-era T-55 tanks and armored personnel carriers were stationed on squares in Baghdad.
Apparently the only bits of Iraqi armor not destroyed in the invasion, a U.S. official said, were reclaimed from the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition militia that Hussein had armed and used as a surrogate force inside Iraq. [I'm sure they have much better tanks now that they are doing the same job for us in Iran.]
"The security plan is perfect," interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi announced after casting his vote." [Except for the dead and wounded.]
Stephen Hadley, the new National Security Advisor, you remember, the one who took the bullet for Condi over the "16-words" about uranium in Niger, said of the election...
"It ought to give heart to the American people that the effort we've made to help the Iraqi people get to this day was well worth it -- that the Iraqi people have justified the faith we put in them..."
And the Iraqi security forces, with 150,000 U.S. troops right behind them to keep them from running away?
"By and large, they performed exceedingly well."
The turn out?
Howard Kurtz writes on spinning the election:
"When an Iraqi official estimated a 72 percent turnout rate early Sunday, the figure was repeatedly cited by anchors and correspondents, although a few noted that it sounded unrealistically high. It turned out to be as accurate as the American exit polls in November.
But although the official number was later downgraded to 60 percent, that may not be accurate, either. "It's an amazing media error, a huge blunder," said Clinton White House veteran Robert Weiner. "I'm sure the Bush administration is thrilled by this spin."
The 60 percent figure is based on the notion that 8 million of 14 million eligible Iraqis turned out. But the 14 million figure is the number of registered Iraqis, while turnout is usually calculated using the number of eligible voters.
The number of adults in Iraq is probably closer to 18 million, which would lower the turnout figure. And the registration figure itself is questionable.
Anyone who received a ration card was deemed registered [That was the original idea Bremer rejected.], and there was no effort to remove duplicate names or those who sought extra food rations.
Election officials concede they did not have a reliable baseline on which to calculate turnout."
South Vietnamese turn out in large numbers despite threat of violence from insurgents.
The problem with all the positive hype about the U.S. sponsored election in 1966, which was supposedly to form an assembly to draft a constitution (sound familiar?), was it prompted some in congress to question our continued presence in Vietnam.
Look for Bush not to paint too much of a rosy picture in his State of the Union speech tonight, to avoid the same trap.
Edward S. Herman writes of other elections we've sponsored in the spread of democracy around the world.
"In the case of Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, the United States was fighting the NLF, which was admitted by U.S. officials to be the only mass-based party in South Vietnam, so its exclusion was obvious and essential for U.S. purposes, but clearly made the election meaningless.
The United States also warred against and seriously weakened the Buddhist church movement, the second largest constituency organization in the South.
Under U.S. direction two dissidents who might have drawn substantial votes were excluded from candidacy, assuring that the military leaders of U.S. choice would win the election.
These gross violations of the basics of a free election-and there were others-did not cause the New York Times (etc.) to call the election a sham. The media were impressed by the eagerness of the Vietnamese peasants to cast their vote for the U. S. -chosen military leaders."
Mayor Anthony Williams not being niggardly about Bush's inauguration.
"It really pisses me off that people are so selfish that they can't give him this one day."
-----Referring to the protesters, quoted in the Post
Yeah mayor bow tie, we'll just forget you're running a city which went 90% for Kerry and that W stuck with a 19 million dollar bill for the big party.
Nice work idiot.