Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stating the Obvious

From a headline I spied while riding in the Metro today (from the Washington Express):

Shiites Take Early Lead ...

Well, you don't say? One would expect that a group that comprises more than 60 percent of the population would take the lead in polling? Doesn't that fit right up there with having a headline that says "Whites Expected to Dominate Congress after Vote"?

But this is the problem--the reinforcement of the idea that in Iraq the only meaningful political identity is one's ethno-religious community. Even if, over time, party and ideological divisions rise to the fore, my guess is that in Iraq you will be a Shi'ite socialist, a Shi'ite free-marketer, etc.--that people will still be expected to vote for "one of their own."

Comments:
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad offered a surprisingly candid assessment today:

"It looks like people preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identity," Khalilzad told reporters. "But for Iraq to succeed, there has to be cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic cooperation. At this point, it seems sectarian, and ethnic identity has played a dominant role in the vote."
 
It's Bosnia all over again.
 
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