More on US Refusal to hold Local Elections
Many thanks to readers for the great interest they showed in so serious a subject as the consequences of the refusal of the Coalition Provisional Authority to allow local elections in Iraq last summer. The subject was broached by Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago.
I just received the following from a former US government official of wide experience:
“Many thanks for posting Prof. Myerson’s discussion on the failure to allow early local elections, together with your comments. Questions could also be raised as to why national elections were not conducted last year or early this year. Public safety conditions have not substantially changed since the possibility was first vented. To the CPA’s excuse that an election can’t take place absent a national registration scheme, in itself a complex process, you and others pointed out that the UN food ration rolls, while not perfect, were sufficiently serviceable for the purpose of getting popular democracy rolling.
“My guess–not based on concrete evidence, but on my experience–is that the US wanted to make sure that any electoral process was controllable and returned a malleable and “safe” Iraqi government that still could claim legitimacy. The elaborate Rube Goldberg caucus scheme put forward by the CPA was designed to assure those objectives. Real popular elections were a crap
shoot in which the US was unwilling to join.
“Why? The justification had less to do with democracy than with broader strategic objectives. My guess is that the US wanted to establish a major military base in Iraq and for that needed a compliant Iraqi government. It had nothing to do with terrorism. Such a strategic move would serve three goals: to outflank and largely surround Iran, with Turkey, Afghanistan and
some of the ‘Stans on its other flanks; the same for Syria, a candidate member of the axis of evil; and secure long-term oil supplies. (Taking Syria and Iran out of the picture would almost totally isolate the Palestinians; I speculate that is what was implied by routing of the road to Jerusalem through Baghdad).
“In the event, I suspect that if those were the US objectives, then they have at least faded in the light of events. But if I am right, then it might serve to explain a lot of what the US was doing, or not going, over much of the past year and more.