Opinion: Electile dysfunction

David Chen

David Chen

By Adam Zmick

Irony: A state of affairs or events that is reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to, as if in mockery of the appropriate result.

The word is misused frequently, so I generally try to avoid using it. This time I can’t. The following excerpt is the very definition of irony:

“Overthrown Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was arrested by U.S. forces last December, reportedly plans to run as a candidate in the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2005.

“Saddam’s lawyer Giovanni di Stefano … said that there was no law that prevented Saddam from appearing on the ballot.

“Stefano claims, ‘Saddam has no chance to be tried before the elections. Moreover, no international law prevents him from coming forward’

“Stefano remarked that a recent Gallup poll indicates that 42 percent of the Iraqi people want their former leader back.”

Where did I get this report? Did it come from some conspiracy crackpot’s blog? Actually, no. It comes from Zaman, one of the five largest daily newspapers in Turkey, and the first Turkish daily newspaper online. It might not be Time magazine, but it should give proponents of the occupation something to think about.

What if the report is true? What do we say to the families of the more than 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers and of the 13,000 to 15,000 dead Iraqis?

The first reason for the invasion was because Iraq was responsible for 9/11; then it was because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction; and after that, the United States had to play superhero, coming to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and to bring democracy to Iraq. What would happen if the people of Iraq democratically chose Saddam? How would George W. Bush respond if the last two excuses for war were all of a sudden in conflict?

According to one source, Bush had one possible solution: “a secret ‘finding’ written several months ago proposing a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favored by Washington. A source said the idea was to help such candidates – whose opponents might be receiving covert backing from other countries, like Iran – but not necessarily to go so far as to rig the elections.”

What’s my source this time? Time.

What would be so wrong if we rigged the Iraqi elections anyway? If the election is going to be bungled, why not bungle it in the direction we want it to go? After all, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld recently told Congress that a second-rate election in Iraq would be good enough:

“Let’s say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. But in some places you couldn’t because the violence was too great. Well, so be it. Nothing’s perfect in life.”

I find it disturbing that the people in charge of our nation have such low expectations, but evidently, the people in charge of Iraq are perfectly content with mediocrity. In fact, an imperfect election wasn’t only good enough for Iraq; it was good enough for the United States as well.

On Sunday, Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, told Tim Russert on MSNBC’s Meet the Press, “I don’t think that Iraq will have a perfect election. And if I recall looking back at our own election four years ago, it wasn’t perfect either.”

Great. We invaded Iraq without a plan; used fabricated and discredited intelligence in defiance of the U.N. Charter; and acted against the wishes of the majority of the people on the planet. Now that thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of billions of dollars have gone down the drain, someone finally is admitting that the 2000 election that made it all possible “wasn’t perfect.”

Maybe regime change really should start at home.

Adam Zmick is a senior in engineering. His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected]