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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Iraqi Election Of Doom

Amir Taheri: IRAQI ELECTION OF DOOM, NOT.

December 21, 2004 -- HERE we go again. With the start of the Iraqi cam paign season, doomsters are back with predictions of disaster for the newly liberated nation.
Some claim the election could be a prelude to civil war. Others warn that the nation's Shiite majority might, in a moment of madness, choose an Iranian-style theocracy. Still others point to the Kurdish show of disaffection as a sign the multi-ethnic country may well be heading for disintegration, and that the coming elections could speed up the process.

Yet most doomsters are the same people who opposed first the liberation of Iraq, and then the holding of free elections. What is the evidence for all their warnings and demands that Iraqi elections be postponed (presumably forever)?

Some pretend to be alarmed by the "excessive language" used by rival Iraqi politicians in campaign speeches. For example, Hazem Shaalan, Iraq's flamboyant defense minister, has attacked Hussein Shahrestani, the leader of one of the Shiite lists of candidates, as "the man from Tehran." Shahrestani's aides have retaliated by branding Shaalan "the American minister."

By most campaign standards, this is a rather mild polemical exchange. The American papers that pretend to be shocked by Iraqi verbal duels must have forgotten the recent U.S. campaign, which saw President Bush branded as "the Arabian candidate" and Sen. John Kerry portrayed as a coward masquerading as a hero.

What is happening in Iraq is what happens in every democracy: Political rivals attack each other verbally — but, in contrast to most other Arab states, do not imprison or murder their opponents.

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