Friday, December 24, 2004

Updated December 24, 2004 at 1:30 pm
Wingnuts and the Upcoming Iraqi Election: What does the election mean for regime change? Can the United States and the Coalition deliver on their promise to bring a workable democracy to Iraq?
Zakaria/Will/Stephanopoulos/Rev. Jackson/Dean/Buchanan/Bush/Kerry/Flannery: Picking out the true Wingnuts.
As we approach the New Year and try to assess where the U. S. and the Coalition are in Iraq, what does the upcoming January 30 election in Iraq mean? Will there be a strong turnout notwithstanding the obvious risk to personal safety to those Iraqis who exercise their first taste of political freedom in Iraq—and vote? Is the Coalition/Iraqi effort on the path to success? To establishing a workably democratic regime that will be a beacon of hope to those in that part of the world who live under despotic, totalitarian regimes-- regimes that many in the Republican Party and a decent number in the Democratic Party feel are ultimately a threat to the United States’ national security, notwithstanding our government’s often overt or tacit support of such regimes.

Or is the War in Iraq a slog that eventually will wear-down even the neo-cons and their allies in the Bush Administration, causing them and the Administration to say that they tried a noble experiment and failed. That will, of course, move us closer as a country to the isolationists in both parties, e.g. Howard Dean, Pat Buchanan and Rev. Jesse Jackson [someone who will lament incessantly an Ohioan receiving the wrong directions to the geographic location of a polling place as cause to re-do the entire election in Ohio, but will give no thought to an Iraqi being kept, at gunpoint, from exercising her right to vote].

Dean, Buchanan and Jackson are viewed by the mainstream American electorate as the “wingnuts,” of the American political scene, to borrow a phrase that CBS 2 News’ Mike Flannery likes to use in a somewhat different context, but the wingnuts do have their followings [Indeed, so much so, that Dean, scream speech and all, was given serious consideration to Chair the national Democratic Party]. And, you will not hear anyone in the mainstream media call Dean, Buchanan or Rev. Jackson a “wing- nut.” That term of endearment is reserved by the media for conservative Republicans, a label that no longer fits for Buchanan, with Pat essentially having migrated to the Democrats’ side of the aisle by adopting isolationist, protectionist trade and anti-immigration views.

George Will and Fareed Zakaria, two of the more articulate voices on television, suggest the contours of a somewhat different answer to the Iraq question:

George Stephanopoulos (ABC News’ “This Week” host): Let’s look forward and take on this question of whether or not we are succeeded, succeeding in Iraq. Secretary Card said this morning that we [have] won the War; it is just a matter of getting on the road to elections right now. That is also a debatable prospect.

George Will (ABC News): I don’t think you have won the War until you can say you can stand down your troops and they are back in policing mode and we are not in policing mode- we are still trying to conquer unconquered parts of the country. George, I remember twenty some years ago on this program- there were Saturday elections in El Salvador. We had the film on a Sunday morning of people standing in lines under gunfire. The desire to vote is palpable around the world. We will see how well it can be done here. We have several thousand polling places to guard in Iraq, but we will see if the people of Iraq will do essentially what the El Salvadorans did. The question is, the premise is, and this is seen to be very optimistic, that an election means pacification. I don’t believe that.

Fareed Zakaria (ABC News): No, I think you are right, George. It won’t solve everything. But, it is an important step because it will produce a government with some greater degree of legitimacy than the current one. And, that will give that government some greater effectiveness at dealing with this insurgency. So, I think it is not a cure-all by any means and it produces problems--
This Week with George Stephanopoulos, December 19, 2004. “This Week,” airs every Sunday morning from 9:30 am to 10:30 am on ABC, Ch. 7 [except, of course, when ABC’s local affiliate is carrying something important to your life, like golf, a fire or the Chicago Marathon, in which case you will find This Week airing at some time like 8:00 am or 2:00 am, if you can find it at all].
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at