And the Backpedaling Continues

From Holden:

The Bushies are sending their folks out to tell the media on background that the January 30 election in Iraq is really not that important, paricularly in terms of who actually votes and whether all facets of Iraqi society are represented. I guess it depends on how you define democracy.

“I would . . . really encourage people not to focus on numbers, which in themselves don’t have any meaning, but to look on the outcome and to look at the government that will be the product of these elections,” a senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity at a White House briefing yesterday. The official highlighted the low voter turnout in U.S. elections as evidence that polling numbers are not essential to legitimacy.

The transition from an interim body, which was appointed last summer by U.N. and U.S. officials, to an elected government “in itself is an enormous achievement and . . . we all encourage people to view it in that way,” the official said.

For months, the administration has promoted the elections as a major milestone in its efforts to bring democracy to Iraq and then the wider Middle East and Islamic world. But the continuing insurgency and the inability of U.S. forces to stabilize Iraq almost two years after the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein has forced the administration to redefine the context, goals and role of this first vote.

And, typical of the Bush regime, they don’t have a back-up plan if the March of Freedom is somehow deterred.

At this late date, the United States also has no viable options or alternatives other than trying to go forward with the Jan. 30 elections, analysts say.

“I don’t think they’re thinking of a Plan B. What they have is permutations of Plan A: You go for elections, hope for the best and if it doesn’t materialize, you go with whatever emerges — probably a heavily Shiite government,” said Henri J. Barkey, a former State Department Iraq specialist who is now head of Leheigh University’s International Relations Department. “Then you hope that this new government will be smart enough and enlightened enough to make an outreach to the Sunnis.”