3 February 2005

The familiar ring of "success, culmination, and legitimacy"

As we reflect fondly on the Iraqi elections, it's good to look back for inspiration at previous pre-emptive precursors. This little gem has been bouncing around the blogosophere.

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote:
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting or the victory of the military candidates, Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, who was running for president, and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, the candidate for vice president.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Diem was overthrown by a military junta.

Few members of that junta are still around, most having been ousted or exiled in subsequent shifts of power.

Significance Not Diminished

The fact that the backing of the electorate has gone to the generals who have been ruling South Vietnam for the last two years does not, in the Administration's view, diminish the significance of the constitutional step that has been taken.

The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.

American officials had hoped for an 80 per cent turnout. That was the figure in the election in September for the Constituent Assembly. Seventy-eight per cent of the registered voters went to the polls in elections for local officials last spring.

Before the results of the presidential election started to come in, the American officials warned that the turnout might be less than 80 per cent because the polling place would be open for two or three hours less than in the election a year ago. The turnout of 83 per cent was a welcome surprise. The turnout in the 1964 United States Presidential election was 62 per cent.

Captured documents and interrogations indicated in the last week a serious concern among Vietcong leaders that a major effort would be required to render the election meaningless. This effort has not succeeded, judging from the reports from Saigon.

As Empire Notes points out, the parallels only go so far:

  • "The NLF was not allowed to compete in those elections. Similarly, there really isn't a group representing the resistance. In the case of South Vietnam, it's likely the NLF would have won a substantial victory in free elections (and had elections been held in Vietnam in 1956, as mandated by the Geneva Accords of 1954, the Vietminh would have won an overwhelming victory). Although the vast majority of Iraqis opposes the occupation, it's not clear how much of the vote a party representing the resistance would win."
  • "Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky, the people who were 'elected,' had already taken power in a coup and were running a military dictatorship fully backed by and collaborating with the U.S. forces in South Vietnam. Ayad Allawi was picked by U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer to be the dictator of Iraq until the elections and all other major politicians who will get any substantial portion of the vote, including those from SCIRI, Dawa, the KDP, and the PUK, were also picked by the United States to serve on the Governing Council and have been supported by and collaborating with U.S. occupying forces ever since."

In spite of the differences, there's much in common--a leadership that distorts the views and realities on the ground and a U.S. population that has jumped on the bandwagon in America's latest campaign of imperial hubris.


Cosa Nostradamus said...

"And it's One, Two, Three,
What are we fightin' for?
Ah, don't ask me,
I don't give a damn..."

Karlo said...

If we wait around long enough, history is sure to repeat itself.

delftsman3 said...

You can cite Viet Nam examples all you want, but then there is a story like THIS that show that there is a new sense of unity and national pride among the Iraqi people. Take note of the last sentence:"...that the chief called Salafis". (Outsiders)

And the first whif of a breeze of freedom is even happening in Saudi Arabia.
Just as President Bush surmised; if there was a funtioning democracy in the M.E., it would serve as anexample and a catalyst for change in the whole region.
Apparently the Arab nations surrounding Iraq believes in the legitimacy of the elections more than our own Left wing does.

Karlo said...

I'm in full agreement with your basic point. I'm sure that a lot of people in the Middle East would love to see democracy bloom in their neck of the woods. If they could only get rid of the American-backed dictators that run things (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) or the U.S.-backed apartheid governments (Israel).

delftsman3 said...

"..If they could only get rid of the American-backed dictators that run things (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait..":

Karlo, that is what the incursion into Iraq was all about; set up ONE functioning democracy based on an indiginous culture, and the rest are pressured to follow the example. And it's starting to work. It WILL take a generation, at least, but as I noted above, it's beginning even in Saudi Arabia. The best thing is that it's coming from within and not imposed from without.

"..or the U.S.-backed apartheid governments (Israel)."

By the rules of logic, a gratuitious statement may be gratuitiously denied. BUT:

Israqel is NOT an "apartheid" government. Arabs compose almost 20% of Israeli citizens. They have full voting rights and are members of the Knesset. The Mayor of Jerueselem is Arabic. Apartheid countries do NOT put members of the downtrodden minority in their government to include the leadership of their most important city. The ONLY difference between Arabic and Jewish citizens is that Arabic citizens are not REQUIRED to serve in the military. Jewish citizens are.

Ethnically, there is NO SUCH THING as "palestinians" they are, for the most part, ethnically Jordanian. You don't find it slightly odd that their most hallowed leader was an Egyption? You'd think with the hallowed "palestinian tradition" they try to claim to be fighting for would have produced at least ONE native leader?

If the "Palistinians" would put as much effort into building their infrastructure as they do in conducting suicide bombing runs, they would have had a state by now. The US has been giving them the "carrot" of aid and relief funds for years..Too bad that Arafat just used those funds to fill his own Swiss Bank accounts instead of for the betterment of his people.

They want a state of their own? Simple. STOP BOMBING WOMEN AND SCHOOL CHILDREN.

Muslims are always citing the "holiness" of their cities...seems like every other town is some important Holy site of their religion, Bin Ladin even cited the "presence of Infidels on the holy lands of Islam as one of the reasons for his terrorism; yet they expect the Iraelis to give up control of the city that forms the heart of THEIR religion?


Karlo said...

"Ethnically, there is NO SUCH THING as "palestinians" they are, for the most part, ethnically Jordanian."

I'm not sure what counts as an "ethnicity." I suppose if any group is willing to stand up and yell loud enough then they have all it takes to be an ethnicity. As for rights to Palestine, prior to the Zionist movement, virtually no Jews lived in the area. Or to put it another way, about as many Jews lived in Palestine as lived in the other areas of the Middle East. In other words, the non-native Israeli Jews have as much right to Israel as they have to Yemen or New York. As for the native Palestinians having rights, most of them don't have any. That's why they are called "refugees." They were born there but somehow don't belong there. While someone born in New York or Russia who emigrates to Israel somehow "belongs" there. The criteria for "belonging" has nothing to do with where you were born but rather what ethnic group you belong to. If that isn't apartheid, I don't know what is.

delftsman3 said...

Hey Karlo,

I found someone else who agrees with me about the situation vis a vis the Arab/Israeli conflict.
Here's some quotes:

“The occupation is in the minds of Children who are taught hatred.”

“The Israeli Arab conflict is not about geography but about Jew hatred; the 1400 year history of Islam proves it.”

“The Arab refugees are being used as pawns' to create a terror breeding ground, as a form of aggression against Israel”
"No one (Arab or Jew) has a "right of return". Jews who fled Arab persecution from 1948 to 1956 should have no right of return to Arab lands, and Arabs who ran away in 1948 and 1967 should have no right of return either. This should end all argument. Yet the Jews accept this judgment, while the Arabs reject EVERYTHING."

And my personal favorite:“Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”

Sounds like a hate filled, racist Joooo doesn't it?

So happens that those statements were made by a "Palistinian" named Walid Shoebat that threw his first rocks at Israeli soldiers at the age of eight...Joined the PLO by twenty and had bombed an Israeli bank during which an Israeli policeman was killed.

His great grandfather, Abdullah Ali Awad-Allah, was also a fighter and close associate of both Abdul Qader and Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who led the Palestinians against Israel.

He came to the United States and worked with the Arab Student Organization at Loop College in Chicago to further the Palistinian cause.

Then he studied the Tanash (Jewish bible) in an effort to convert his wife to Islam, and he discovered everything he had been taught about Jews his entire life was a lie. He then studied the history of all the groups involved in the conflicts and had the revelation that EVERYTHING he had been taught about why there should be conflict between Arabs and Jews and Muslims and everyone else was a lie, in fact, he feels that Islam is the main problem in most of the conflicts in the world today. He converted to Christianity and has worked ever since to try to educate people about Israels right to exist and protect itself.

Don't take my word for it, Google the name. Read for yourself.

One who was on the inside of the PLO, and within the higher echalons of same by his heritage puts the lie to every meme that the pro-Palistinian movement has promulgated, some of which I have heard you parrot here.

delftsman3 said...

"They were born there but somehow don't belong there."

The people that stayed in Israel in 1948 and 1967 became Israeli citizens,with full rights and privileges thereof. Those that fled, or were living on the land that the Arabs lost in the 1967 war became the "palistinians".

They fled to Jordan, Egypt, and Syria..the problem was that those countries didn't want anything to do with their Islamic brethren. Furthurmore they saw in the refugees a way to continue their fight against the Jews with "plausible deniability", using them as the pawns who would bear the task of doing the dirty work and the dying.

Karlo said...

I would agree that these people have been used as pawns. Dictatorships everywhere love to justify their totalitarian ways through the use of racism and religious divisions (a lesson not lost on the Republican Party). Even so, there are people being born in Palestine who are born without a nationality. The nation who controls their lives (Israel) should be forced to grant them the full rights of citizenship. (Or, be forced to grant them self-determination.) And immigration shouldn't be used as a vehicle for establishing the dominance of one religious group over another.