There's been a lot of discussion lately as to whether increasing violence in Iraq will keep meaningful elections from being held there this coming January. It's a serious problem all right, eveybody admits. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that legitimate elections are impossible. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responds, "I've never seen an election anywhere that's perfect," and suggests that partial elections might be held, excluding from polling those geographic areas under the sway of insurgent control. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage declares, though, that Iraqi elections must encompass the whole country. But all these discussion are merely a distraction. There is a proven plan to ensure safe, credible elections in Iraq.
Remember when we turned full sovereignty over affairs of state to the interim Iraqi government last June? Remember that the transfer of power was scheduled for June 30, 2004, but how concerns over violence threatened to mar the ceremony? Do you remember how, in response to those concerns, the transfer was secretly accomplished two days earlier, on June 30, 2004, without ceremony, and the Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator, J. Paul Bremer III, was safely wisked out of the country before anyone on the outside was ever informed of the fait accompli? Well, there lies the solution to the Iraqi election dilemma!
Iraq must hold surpise elections. I know, that sounds a little unusual, but this is how it could be done. What President Bush must do is continue to assert that Iraqi elections will be held in January, 2005, holding fast on this point in spite of the rising violence and warnings of impending disaster. It would be even better if he could announce some definite date on which the elections will be held. Mr. Bush continues to affirm this committment as the announced date draws near. Then, early one morning about three or four days prior to election day, members of the imterim government gather together, along with as many eligible voters as they can personally muster out on short notice, and cast ballots for the next prime minister and other government officials. Not a breath about the surpise election must get out prior to it happening. The result? No fuss, no hoopla, just getting the job done. Then, when all the ballots are counted, the results are announced to the world, and the new elected government is seated. More importantly, security has been maintained, nobody has been harmed, and violence has failed to influence the election.
I know this plan will work. After all, wasn't full sovereignty over an autonomous and independent Iraq successfully and legitimately transferred to the appointed interim government without bloodshed?