The recent election in Iraq has been another opportunity for the hawks to roll out their “Mission Accomplished” banners, but it is also a rare victory for non-violent people power in a conflict that has mostly been driven by multilateral violence:
[T]he Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections of this sort. First they were going to turn Iraq over to Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on , Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in . The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani immediately gave a fatwa denouncing this plan and demanding free elections mandated by a UN Security Council resolution. Bush was reportedly “extremely offended” at these two demands and opposed Sistani. Bremer got his appointed Interim Governing Council to go along in fighting Sistani. Sistani then brought thousands of protesters into the streets in , demanding free elections. Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to . This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos, and Sistani is still bitter that the Americans didn’t hold the elections . The US objected that they couldn’t use UN food ration cards for registration, as Sistani suggested. But in the end that is exactly what they did.