The Myth in Juan Cole's "10 Myths"

Juan Cole laid out his “10 Myths on Iraq” today to set the record straight for all of his readers who have not been paying attention to any of the successes in Iraq. This way, when the Iraqi government is set up and running and US forces are further reduced, the Left won’t be so shell-shocked.

And, while his “myths” make some sense, like his Myth #5 in respect to the under-rated Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Juan waits until Myth #10 to really let loose on the Bush-Wackiness:

10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq. This allegation is simply not true, as I and others pointed out last January. I said then, and it is still true:

“Moreover, as Swopa rightly reminds us all, the 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 November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. 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 January of 2004, 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 January 2005. 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 last May. 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.”

Where did he get that? That is utter nonsense!

Juan Cole is way out in left field on that one. In April 28, 2003, Bush said this at the Ford Center in Dearborn, Michigan:

Many Iraqi Americans know the horrors of Saddam Hussein’s regime firsthand. You also know the joys of freedom you have found here in America. (Applause.) You are living proof the Iraqi people love freedom and living proof the Iraqi people can flourish in democracy. (Applause.) People who live in Iraq deserve the same freedom that you and I enjoy here in America. (Applause.) And after years of tyranny and torture, that freedom has finally arrived. (Applause.)

I have confidence in the future of a free Iraq. The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government. Every day Iraqis are moving toward democracy and embracing the responsibilities of active citizenship.

In a November 6, 2003 speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, Bush said:

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy — and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we’re working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs.

On November 19, 2003 Bush said in London:

The third pillar of security is our commitment to the global expansion of democracy, and the hope and progress it brings, as the alternative to instability and to hatred and terror. We cannot rely exclusively on military power to assure our long-term security. Lasting peace is gained as justice and democracy advance…

Now we’re pursuing a different course, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. We will consistently challenge the enemies of reform and confront the allies of terror. We will expect a higher standard from our friends in the region, and we will meet our responsibilities in Afghanistan and in Iraq by finishing the work of democracy we have begun

Whatever has come before, we now have only two options: to keep our word, or to break our word. The failure of democracy in Iraq would throw its people back into misery and turn that country over to terrorists who wish to destroy us. Yet democracy will succeed in Iraq, because our will is firm, our word is good, and the Iraqi people will not surrender their freedom.

And, on and on… George Bush hasn’t changed. His intent has never changed. His process has changed as the situation in Iraq has changed. But, the original intent of a free and democratic Iraq has never changed. However, it looks like the talking points on the Left are about to!

Juan Cole knows that democracy consists of “free elections.” George Bush has been saying this all along. He did not just start talking democracy in 2003 because the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani bullied him into it!

But in Juan Cole’s mind it was because of the Sistani statement that Bush was pushed into agreeing to a democracy in Iraq. How crazy! Here is Sistani’s Fatwa in June 2003:

“The occupation authorities are not entitled to name the members of the assembly charged with drafting the constitution… There is no guarantee that such a convention will draft a constitution which upholds the Iraqi people’s interests and expresses their national identity.”

That’s hardly a slap in the face for Bush! That may have changed process but it never changed the Bush Administration’s democratic intent for Iraq.

As Iraq is taking its infant steps of democracy, this is how the Left will paint the “intentions” of the Bush Administration, that “This is not what George Bush wanted.” Juan and the liberals are going to have their hands full convincing the public of that whopper!

And, about those Sistani Fatwa’s…

He gave one in April of ’05:

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani gave a fatwa Friday saying that cooperation with the forces charged with safeguarding security in Iraq is “obligatory” on all Iraqis, “as long as the principles of Islamic law are observed.”

In October “04 this was his fatwa:

All citizens, male and female, who are eligible to vote must make sure that their names are properly registered on the electoral register. Whoever has not registered his name or has done so incorrectly must refer to the electoral committee in their area and provide the required documents for registration and/or amendments.

There m
ay have been a disconnect with timing of elections but never on whether they were to occur, which is what Juan Cole claims.
In April 2003:

“Our country must be governed by its people, by its best children. It is for Iraqis to choose who governs, we want them to control the country.”

The Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has been a friend to Iraq and the Coalition forces for quite some time. I would argue that he is deserving of the Nobel for how he has calmly reacted to the developments in Iraq and how he has made decisions that have helped all of Iraq and not just his Shia majority. But, it was not just the Grand Ayatollah who envisioned democracy for Iraq. Sorry, Juan.

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