Saturday, October 09, 2004

Dad and I listened to the debates on the way home last night. Overall, I thought Bush did excellently--his speaking has improved so much since he took office in 2000 (was it really only four years ago?). He managed to put Kerry on the defensive--which reduced him to a mournful, sanctimonious, self-pitying, droning state of boilerplate promises and 9/10/2001-era thinking.
There was one thing he said that really stuck out, for some reason, in my mind:
"Iraq isn't ready for elections. King Abdullah of Jordan says that there's too much chaos in Iraq for elections."
My question is--what the hell does King Abdullah know about free and democratic elections???


Anonymous Anonymous said...


My guess is that King Abdullah has learned about free elections from holding them in his country. They do, after all, have an elected house in their bicameral parliament (the Majlis al-Umma).

Further, I suspect that, as the leader of one of the more progressive Muslim states in the Middle East, he's got some credibility, both with us, and with nearby governments. I doubt he'd lie just to help the Kerry campaign--even if he thinks (which may or may not be the case) that Kerry would be the better President. I think he's interested in regional stability--his country does border Israel.


4:08 AM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

I wasn't saying he was lying, per se...I just said that as an monarchical, unelected head of state, that he would have limited experience with the election of a democratic state. Even in chaotic conditions. America had an election in 1864 and somehow democracy survived...I think the same thing could hold true for Iraq.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would pose that there is a substantial difference between the USA in 1864 and Iraq next January: 75 years of Democracy that we ourselves set up. The Iraqi people don't, yet, know the parameters of the parliament they'll be setting up. I think it'll be difficult to get them fully informed about the system, and generate belief in it...

Much less to King Abdullah's point about stability. According to a personal email from a WSJ reporter (found here: it's pretty bloody unstable--and the people [or at least some] don't see the value of the elections.

An important part of Political Legitimacy is self-determination--and there's no way of knowing who's going to write the document that will establish the democratic system (since it's not in place yet) that's a concern for me as well. I can pretty much guarantee you that if the Iraqis write it, it will include Shari'a law--since a writer named Mawardi wrote the earliest tract on Muslim Political Theory, insofar as my memory goes, around 1100, it's been a fundamental part of Political Legitimacy.

My guess is that the Prime Minister (if they go with a British-style Parliamentary system) will be Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani. He is the highest-ranking Shi'a leader in a place where the only real organizations are religious ones; and the Iraqi majority is Shi'a. He's a powerful and respected community leader; he's moderate--he's condemned much of Muqtada al-Sadr's violence. Even so, I doubt that the current administration would be thrilled to have him in office. I'm all but certain that there'd be serious unrest (even moreso, I suppose) if he (or al-Sadr for that matter) were kept off the ballot.

Regardless--it's a sticky situation.

1:48 PM  
Blogger dymphna's double said...

Hey, Will, you've got a good commenter here in A.E. He's informed, modulated in tone, and differs enough to make him interesting. It's good when you can find someone who can maintain his end of a dialogue without sarcasm, condescension, or ad hominem attacks.

Way to go.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

Tell me about it. I owe a lot to him personally, as well.

3:48 PM  
Blogger James said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:50 PM  
Blogger James said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:01 PM  
Blogger James said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mrs. Sullivan. I'm glad that I meet your standards. ;-)

To be fair, I've been known to be sarcastic. I've found that, used appropriately (and not in an ad hominem or severe fashion) it can be an effective tool to bring something to light.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the above was me.

1:15 AM  

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