Thursday, January 13, 2005

I would really encourage people not to focus on numbers

Looking for a Rumsfeld quote I’d heard on tv, I read the transcript of his joint press conference with the Russian defense minister. After Rumsfeld talked about how some released Guantanamo detainees have gone back to fighting, Ivanov chimed in about how they’d had the very same problem back when they were trying to subjugate Afghanistan. And no one present seemed to think there was anything odd about this exchange, just two imperialists chatting about their troubles with those devious natives.

Anyway, the quote was about the Iraqi elections, which are now being treated as the Special Olympics of elections. Rummy: “First, just having elections in Iraq is an enormous success and a victory.” And the electoral lists are diverse, so any government will be “broadly representative,” by which he means there will be tokens, not that it will be representative in the sense of reflecting votes. The Bushies are in the process of defining democracy downwards, as a WaPo article details, quoting a “senior administration official” as saying “I would ... really encourage people not to focus on numbers, which in themselves don’t have any meaning”. Silly me, I thought elections were about counting votes. Well, in fact no, since the Bushies are talking increasingly about cobbling together some sort of arrangement to give the Sunni delegates roles irrespective of the election results. It’s unclear why any Iraqis should bother running the risk of being killed for the sake of election results which “in themselves don’t have any meaning”. And Rumsfeld refers to worries about the security of the elections as “hyperventilation,” ignoring the many election workers already murdered.

Oh, and about that Newsweek article about Pentagon discussions about running death squads, “this so-called Salvatore -- Salvador option, I think it’s called.” Well, Rummy says he looked through Newsweek, couldn’t find the article, but it’s nonsense anyway. Honestly, read the transcript, couldn’t make this shit up, wouldn’t want to.

A good piece by Seumas Milne on Iraqi elections in the Guardian points out that while most Iraqis want the occupation ended, no one with a chance of being elected supports that because the occupation is all that keeps them a) in power, b) breathing.

From the AP: “Colombia has invited bounty hunters from around the world to search jungles and cities for Marxist rebel commanders and bring them back in exchange for large cash rewards.” No, nothing could go wrong there.

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