Feb 7, 2005
When the polls in Iraq closed, Prime Minister Allawi, who was put in office by the U.S., rushed to claim that 67% of eligible Iraqis voted. The Bush administration immediately hailed this as a victory. What did it matter if Allawi's officials admitted that they had no idea how many people voted, since the U.S. had shut down all satellite communications during the election? All the better to make up any figure they wanted!
The few precise figures that were available showed a much different reality. U.S. military authorities themselves admit that participation did not reach even 10% in Ramadi, Falluja and Samarra, three important cities of the "Sunni Triangle." Even Iraqis living abroad didn't turn out to vote. In Great Britain, one of the main places where Iraqis have emigrated, less than 20% of the potential voters used their right. And in Detroit, the biggest concentration of Iraqis in the U.S., only 8% of potential voters turned out. (The press bragged about an 80% turnout, but this was 80% of those people who had registered to vote. And only 10% had registered to vote.)
Bush and others also spoke about the "enthusiasm" for democracy, and the media obligingly showed long lines in front of some polling places. But most American TV ignored statements made by Baghdad residents that officials came through the neighborhoods telling people that unless they voted, they wouldn't get their monthly food rations. (People had to use their food ration cards to vote – which allowed them to be checked on later.)
What Bush and the other western leaders want to pass off as a "step toward democracy" is only a sinister parody, stained with the blood of two years of massacres by the occupation forces – especially the massacre in Falluja less than three months ago. On election day, 39 Iraqis were killed and a hundred others wounded in violent attacks. While the occupying army didn't commit most of these murders, the killings are nevertheless the consequence of their presence. This is not even speaking about the five U.S. soldiers killed that day in attacks, or the dozens of British soldiers who died when their plane was hit by a rocket north of Baghdad.
Bush prattles on about "democracy" over and over again in order to justify his military intervention to an increasingly skeptical public opinion here. But democracy remains an abstraction for the Iraqi people who have to live with the permanent threat of U.S. and British tanks and violent attacks by armed bands while they are deprived of everything. While big U.S. corporations divide up tens of billions of dollars of "reconstruction" money, the life of the Iraqi people remains punctuated by electricity outages and the lack of drinkable water, burst sewer pipes and long lines to get their monthly food rations. Even kerosene, the only available cooking fuel, is constantly running out.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are reduced to living in tent cities, refugees in their own country, due to U.S. and British retaliation bombing.
The "democracy" which Bush is seeking to impose on Iraq is nothing but another word for the increased misery suffered by the Iraqi population.