Sunday, January 30

Iraq Vote Commentary

My first viewing of News on the Iraqi elections today was watching a commentary by Neal Cavuto of Fox News. In his commentary Mr. Cavuto stated that it was amazing to see to so many Iraqis bravely defying the intimidation of the insurgents and going to the polls, and shouldn't we Americans be humbled by their bravery when we do not face such intimidation in our own country?

What a crock.

Just as I predicted the wrong-wing has already begun to crow it's success and deride the left, but in doing so seems to have completely obliterated fact and history. This country was not founded on a basis of one person:one vote. It was founded on the basis that only property owners had the right to vote. It took nearly one hundred years for Negros to be granted the right to vote (Amendment XV; Ratified 1869). Women were not granted the same honor until 1919 (Amendment XIX).

50 years ago, when Iraq had it's last Democratic Election, and despite the clear and obvious intent of the then updated Constitution, the U.S. was in the midst (100 years prior to passage of the Voting Rights Act) of ongoing violence and intimidation to restrict the rights of certain people to vote. There were murders, there were bombings, there was terrorism.

It's only been recently, in the last decade and over 30 years after the fact, that the Murderer of NAACP leader Medger Evers was brought to trial. It was only recently that the person responsible for the Selma Church Bombings was brought to justice. It's only been this year that the person responsible for the murders of Freedom Riders has finally been brought back to court.

The idea that American Voters have not faced violence and intimidation is flatly ridiculous, and insulting to all those who risked their lives during those times in the fight for liberty. Furthermore, it's not as though that fight is completely over. The Wrong-wing would have people believe that no one was ever intimidated against voting in America, let alone this past November in Florida or Ohio.

This is untrue.

From the House Judiciary Commitee Report on Voting in Ohio

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• The Ohio Republican Party’s decision to engage in preelection “caging” tactics, selectively targeting 35,000 predominantly minority voters for intimidation had a negative impact on voter turnout. The Third Circuit found these activities to be illegal
and in direct violation of consent decrees barring the Republican Party from targeting minority voters for poll challenges.

• There were widespread instances of intimidation and misinformation in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Equal Protection, Due Process and the Ohio right to vote. Mr. Blackwell’s apparent failure to institute a single investigation into these many serious allegations represents a violation of his statutory duty under Ohio law to investigate election irregularities.

The caging tactics were clearly both discriminatory and illegal. All three district court cases ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding the challenges to be politically and racially charged, and burdening the fundamental right to vote. As one court stated, “This Court recognizes that the right to vote is one of our most fundamental rights. Potential voter intimidation would severely burden the right to vote. Therefore, the character and magnitude of Plaintiffs’ asserted injury is substantial.”178 It went on to note that the right to vote is paramount to any interest in challenging other people: “...Plaintiff’s right to cast votes on election day is a fundamental right. The challengers, however, do not have a fundamental right to challenge other voters.179 These decisions correctly overturned these caging and challenging activities because they violated the right to equal protection, due process, and Ohioans’ fundamental right to vote.
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Accordin to the Wrong-wing any election, regardless of a fair and accurate representation by the people - regardless of intimidation - is a "Good" election. That freedom for the few or the majority, is somehow freedom enough.

This too, is false.

Those of us who've experienced partial freedom, and partial democracy know the truth that the Wrong-wing doesn't want us to believe, and that truth is... Freedom for some, is ultimately freedom for none.

The Wrong-wing would have us believe that the entire point of the War was to reach this day - the first day of a new Iraqi democracy. And it is true that for the Iraqi people and for America's democractic ideals - this is a good day. However, it's not a day that has never occured before under the guidance of America. We have seen in the last decade the first free elections in countries such as Haiti and the Balkans.

Iraq has had elections before. They had election regularly under Saddam Hussein - but those elections were shams. Those elections were corrupt, without observance and documentation by international observers, who were scared by the violence, without the Iraqi people knowing who or what they were voting for, without accurate exit polling to ensure that the final tabulations of votes reflects the action desires of the electorate - there's is no way to verify the legitimacy of this election.

Do they now have Democracy in Iraq? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. They've gone through the motions of an election - and that is a good thing - but it doesn't mean that they have a true democracy.

The re-establishment of democracy in Iraq was far from the only goal included among the many reasons given for this War. Those reasons according to House Joint Resolution 114, were the following:

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Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President `to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677';

Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and `constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,' and that Congress, `supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688';

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge' posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,' while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable';

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;


Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;


Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

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None of the above should be forgotten by Repubs and Dems alike.

Vyan

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