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Sunday, February 13, 2005
Thoughts on the Iraqi Elections: "Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi,"

1. Over the next several weeks, Allawi's poor showing will be portrayed as a rebuke to the United States. Whether or not that is true, I believe that the strong showing by Sistani is actually very good news. The most important moment in the birth of a true Democracy is not elections -- it is the peaceful transfer of power through elections that separates real democracies from phony ones. By losing gracefully -- continuing to take part in the new government but handing over the reigns of power he currently holds -- Allawi will be setting a hugely important precedent that will demonstrate that the Iraqi election really meant something -- and that he respects the will of the people first and foremost.

Of course, he can always choose to pull a Barbara Boxer and vote to decertify the electors because his party lost. But I don't think that is going to happen.

2. Despite the best efforts on the part of the media (particularly the talking heads on the morning shows), the argument that the Sunnis could deligitimize the process by "boycotting" the election never really took hold, did it? Imagine if the whites in South Africa had boycotted Nelson Mendela's election! Please. Nobody cares. The fact is, nobody cares if the Sunni minority has a temper tantrum because they can't tyrannize over the majority any longer. Lucky for them, there is another election coming up after the constitution is drafted. That will be another key moment -- will they continue to pout, or will they seek a place at the table. So far, the Shia and Kurds have bent over backwards to make them feel welcome. Another very good sign of good leadership on the part of all the major players.

3. What about Iran? Doesn't Sistani's win that mean Iran is the big winner?!?! Well, no. You see, Sistani now has more legitimacy than the mad mullahs in Iran. Unlike them, he has been elected and I predict he will have more sway over events in Iran than the other way around.

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