Michael Rubin and Scott Carpenter, of AEI and the Washington Institute respectively, yesterday wrote a surprisingly thoughtful op-ed in WaPo about the importance of the upcoming provincial elections in Iraq.
Of course, I can’t help thinking that once again America’s hopes rest on the whims of a bunch of sheikhs in Mesopotamia. I agree that the elections present a real chance for change, but I wonder if Rubin & Carpenter really grasp the possibility that the change might not be the kind America wants. In the end, you’ll probably have warlords and local strongmen running the show, and an increasingly weak central government that succumbs to Iranian influence, setting off a proxy war. By then, U.S. troops may be safely home, but the threat to American strategic interests will be more serious than ever.
Spencer Ackerman summarises the problems:
[…] Where’s the evidence that the new crop of potential province-bred leaders will be any less corrupt or intransigent or parochial than the current one? Abdul Sattar al-Rashawi was a highway bandit. Counterinsurgents openly refer to the Sons of Iraq and tribal leaders as ‘warlords.’ I’m not making an argument for not having the elections — Nouri al-Maliki seems to need little help there — just for a realistic assessment of what they’ll yield.
Oh, by the way — the elections won’t be held this year, mark my words.