Have you noticed that all the happy talk from the White House and its friends about the Iraqi elections have been about the mere process of holding elections, as if who actually, y’know, won was some sort of minor detail?
Well, the results are starting to come in, and they ain’t pretty. The religious parties, most of them more or less anti-American, just about swept the boards in Arab Iraq, and the secularists — Allawi’s list among the Sunni Arabs and Chalabi’s among the Shi’a — got pretty badly croaked. (Allawi is claiming fraud, perhaps accurately. But since his opponents control the machinery, I doubt it will matter.)
Yes, I too find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that something bad for Ahmed Chalabi could also be bad for the world. But given that the Shi’a religious coalition that whomped Chalabi’s party includes Moqtada al-Sadr as a full partner, even Chalabi starts to look good by contrast.
No doubt most of the Iraqi political class would rather have us hang around for a while, to keep them from gobbling one another up. But we may be facing a situation in which no one dares to anger public opinion (and the Iranians) by standing up for that point of view. What are we going to do if the new government politely asks us to make sure the door doesn’t hit us in the ass on our way out?