Thursday, February 16, 2006

Elections in Iraq and Palestine

Via the Rightcoast another article bewailing the growth of political Islam in the Middle East:
For decades, the dictators who ruled (and rule) the Middle East destroyed all political opposition groups. They were particularly aggressive in co-opting or exterminating liberal, secular, forward-looking groups because those were seen as most threatening. They were often less harsh toward Muslim groups, partly because the Islamists were seen as less political. And, of course, you cannot ban the mosque in an Islamic country. Rulers like Anwar Sadat and Jordan's King Hussein often used Islamic groups to discredit the secular opposition. Decades of repression, incompetence and stagnation ensured that citizens got increasingly unhappy with their regimes. And the only organized, untainted alternative was the Islamic movement.
I suppose this in an improvement over the nuttiness of Daniel Pipes, but it is surprising that the potential role of workers organisations as a force for democracy is never mentioned, are middle-class secular liberals ever going to win the votes of workers, might it be because their authors of articles such as these are faithful to their own class interest? Communism didn't fall because of middle-class liberals but because of the Polish working-class.
The question of political Islam has been raised in the context of Hamas' victory, and as has been noted it is obviously hypocritical for the US government to call for elections and then possibly try to undermine elected governments they dislike. However hypocrisy on elections cuts both ways. It is true that Iraqi opinion polls have consistently shown support for American-led overthrow of Saddam. Jeff Weintrub on the most recent poll:
In a poll conducted in January for by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, Iraqis were asked, among other things
:“Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?” 77% say it was worth it, while 22% say it was not. Polling results should always be taken with a grain of salt, but it is worth pointing out that just about all the relevant data available from the past four years points in the same direction. By itself, of course, the fact that most Iraqis favored the 2003 war and continue to do so is not necessarily a decisive consideration for the rest of us. However, these figures do offer one more reality check for those opponents of the war who have claimed to be acting on behalf of the wishes and well-being of Iraqis. They should find another excuse.
Furthermore, and perhaps more surprisingly: Overall, 64% of Iraqis say that Iraq is heading in the right direction, while just 36% say it is heading in the wrong direction.=> On the other hand, not all the results of this poll are encouraging or reassuring for those of us who supported the 2003 Iraq war. It is clear that the Americans long ago wore out their welcome, and most Iraqis would be happy to see
US troops leave--though with significant variations in preferred timing.

Given the joys of life under Saddam and Israeli occupation it is not surprising Iraqis and Palestinians vote the way they do. The revolutionary left in Australia have generally denied the significance of polls of iraqi opinion and the high levels of electoral turnout, serene in the conviction that Iraq shows Bush can be beaten.
For the revolutionary left however it is activist minorities who make history, hence the bizarre self-delusion that political Islamists simply took a wrong turn on the way to the Socialist Alternative meeting. The Democratic Socialist Party (the major Australian revolutionary socialist organisation) supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but I doubt this is discussed with their new allies. Still good to see that Socialist Alternative is very concerned about anti-Semitic attitudes in 1921 by the Kronsdat rebels!


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