Blogs > Cliopatria > The Vote

Jan 30, 2005 3:16 am

The Vote

I cannot help but be excited about the vote in Iraq. I will try not to sound like a Friedman column but a new social memory is about to be constructed in Iraq. A memory of pollstations, of registers, of lists of names, of celebrations after victory. A memory that will prove a strong tonic against the oppression of the past decades. Amid the violence, amid the chaos, amid the harsh conflict for power, some Iraqis will cast their vote, voice their opinion, and elect someone else to stand as their representative.

The polarization of Sunnis, the power-grab of the Kurds are legitimate venues of concern but perhaps we should seize, for a moment, from looking at Iraqis as congregations of religious sects or ethnicities. I just want to imagine that one Iraqi living somewhere in Baghdad in the middle of the shellings and the raids and the bombings, who will make the brave journey to cast her vote. When she is alone with her ballot, she will become an active citizen of the Iraqi nation. Whatever her choice, she can finally claim to the legitimate right of choosing her leaders.

I am just as unable to help her cast her vote in safety as I was unable to stop the invasion of her country or the dictatorship she endured. Still, I will send a prayer for all Iraqis as they begin to construct their home - from scratch.
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Oscar Chamberlain - 1/31/2005


An article of Juan Cole's, perhaps the same one, got posted on HNN's front page this morning (or last night, perhaps). A point he makes that is troubling is that there was no information available anywhere for many of the people on the ballot.

Can you shed some light on this?

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/31/2005

I'm not that sensitive. I'm off to the reaches of the Commonwealth in three weeks, where my brother (he of the powdered wig) has just been diagnosed with what looks like a familial case of atypical CIDP, and could use the company and assistance. I guess the fact that he went from asymptomatic to barely able to walk in just four months, though his blood sugar level has always been normal (at least through his last annual physical), was something of a clue to his antipodean physicians that it wasn't, as they suspected, diabetic neuropathy. I told him that if he gets through the first year without putting a bullet in his head, he's probably home free.

Then I'm back to the books myself. After a tour through majors in philosophy, econ, and math, with grad stops in econ and history (and a little time devoted to law books), I'm going back to philosophy for my doctorate. Yeah, I know there's no market. But I don't think the highly problematic relation between Parmenides and Zeno has been yet ground to a sufficiently fine dust. Zeno is my man. As Aristotle put it, he's the father of dialectic. Before him, there were just poetic fragments (well, more or less). Then the serious critique of the mythos started. Philosophy isn't a footnote to Plato. It's all done in the footsteps of Zeno.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/31/2005

I never intended to suggest that Mr. Morgan leave our company: what kind of an idiot blogger do you think I am, that would reject the traffic and activity of a reasonably civil, even well-read, gadfly? Though I engage with him, by choice, rarely, he is a part of this community.

I merely thought that someone of his energy and distinctive interests would enjoy having an independent platform, and we would enjoy slightly more focussed attentions. I've suggested the same to other commenters (some of whom I agree with more than Mr. Morgan, though that's a low threshold), when I felt that their primary interests and comments were consistently not on target with the discussions at hand and of a volume to sustain a blogging project.

It is a tribute to your energy and distinctive voice, Mr. Morgan, not an attempt to be dismissive. And I guarantee that my comments were my own, not influenced or induced by any outside party.... though I'm still looking for a way to make this pay.

Manan Ahmed - 1/31/2005

Stick around Mr. Morgan.

Ralph E. Luker - 1/31/2005

No fair, Richard. Cliopatria and Rebunk need missionaries among the Freepers. But, seriously, I've read some of your work and encouraged you to do more of it. I hope that you will. And you know as well as I do that HNN bloggers need the challenges that you pose.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/31/2005

Frankly, I'm surprised you got it. Ralph. I think it was Nietzsche who downplayed the value of having the strength of one's convictions. He rather valued the strength to question one's convictions. It is rarer.

I should be pissed, for Prof. Dresner has cost me money -- I had bet somebody that you or Derek would go there first. Do you have any idea just how hard it is to be more obnoxious each day, without taking the easy road of personal abuse? It can be achieved, obviously. I suggest equal parts garrulity and pomposity.

My work here is done. Time for me to retire to more constructive work, like my Second Amendment and Palmares papers. It's been real. And it's been fun. And contrary to my expectation, it's been real and fun. Gotta run.

Ralph E. Luker - 1/31/2005

Jon, You may be too hard on Richard. As I recall, there was a moment when he even had an invitation to join us at Cliopatria and declined to do so. My sense is that Richard prefers the role of the gadfly. It leaves him free to snipe at others without taking any particular responsibility for constructive work. I like to think of Richard as Cliopatria's missionary among the Freepers. And if Richard had not played his own behind the scenes role in the affaire Reeves, it would not have been nearly the fun that it was.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/31/2005

I like to think of this as my unpaid internship. I couldn't even consider my own blog until I reach the fulmination level of the Reeves affair bloggings. It's something to aspire to. Still, I'm touched by your expression of concern, premature though it may be -- after all, Valentine's Day isn't for another two weeks.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/31/2005

Mr. Morgan,

You should consider starting your own blog, where you can post and fulminate to your heart's content on issues of your own interest. Then, if we think you're interesting, we can link to you.

Greg James Robinson - 1/30/2005

I think that it is important to understand what the vote will and will not do. That is, it is neither meaningless--certainly the bravery exercised by those in Iraq who took the plunge and the impact of the experience of voting on them is inspiring. However, despite such bravery, it remains to be seen what the impact will be. One journalist said it best, that due to the pre-election violence and the reluctance of candidates to expose themselves by campaigning, this was perhaps the first secret election in modern history.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/30/2005

Saw Chris Hitchens on C-SPAN -- he was great. He quoted Robert Fisk, but it was so outrageous I didn't believe the quote was legit until I looked it up. You can find it on the net.

"... we are all looking forward to the elections in Baghdad with the same kind of enthusiasm that the people of Dresden showed when the first Lancasters flew down the Elbe ..." -- Robert Fisk, correspondent for the Independent, and the best friend the islamofascists ever had

Jonathan Dresner - 1/30/2005

Via Head Heeb: An Israeli of Iraqi origin votes in Amman.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/30/2005

I know what point you're trying to make, Mr. Morgan, but that's not the only thing he's written and he is, at least, writing the most factual reports possible. Here's his followup, for example in which he credits security measure from preventing major loss of life. In fact I read the first report you linked to as being in a sense positive: with millions of voters, dozens killed really qualifies as a sort of success given the circumstances.

I think he is overinterpeting the differential voting based on insufficient data, however, and not allowing for the fact that the Iraqis are smart enough to realize that truly unbalanced results will need to be corrected by broader consultations in the constitution writing process.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/30/2005

Yep, at a greater rate than industrialized nations, even though the latter are inflated by mandatory voting schemes in Australia and Belgium.

Hala Fattah - 1/30/2005

Well said, Richard. Juan is a very complex personality, as all of us who have read his blog can attest to. But my beef is not with Juan but with the thousands of Iraqi expatriates in Jordan who live in great security and yet pooh-poohed the whole excercise and failed to register,let alone vote. They cannot but have been embarassed by the huge turnout in Iraq today. I bet the percentage of people who turned up to vote in Iraq is larger than that in the industrial democracies.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/30/2005

If Manan and Hala have any doubts about who their friends are, I suggest they visit the link I provide below. You will no doubt appreciate where he is coming from, based on his previous comment to Reuters: "These election are a joke."

Kinda says it all doesn't it? Millions defy threats to vote, and this guy writes this.

Oscar Chamberlain - 1/30/2005

There is a spirit that the act of voting engenders and encourages, a good spirit. It takes a decent, responsive government to continue that spirit. We will see about that, but without the vote today, there would be no chance for decency to prevail tomorrow.

Jonathan Dresner - 1/30/2005

I love voting. There's nothing quite like it. And I really love to see new voters, whole countries of new voters. All my scholarly reservations aside, this should be seen by all of us as a good day.

And we should all take vow not to try to overinterpret the events or results of the next few days.

Hala Fattah - 1/30/2005

Amen, Ralph! And, as always, thanks for your great consideration of what Iraqis are going through, and have gone through before, and let's pray that a free and united Iraq takes hold this time!

Ralph E. Luker - 1/30/2005

Dear Manan and Hala, I am so grateful to Manan for posting this and to Hala for responding here. I pray that something good, fair, decent, maybe even something democratic will be the result, a token of compensation for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the pain and suffering of millions of people in these last decades. Salams.

Hala Fattah - 1/30/2005

Dear Manan,
Thanks so much for your empathy. I'm not your brave voter in Iraq, but I voted in Amman! It was also the fist time for me. I was always a cynic but on this occasion, I was fumbling with my ballot like everyone else. The person I went with cried.
Salams, and thank you,

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