Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Framers Were A Small Number

French officials and newspapers have expressed what their choices would be our presidential election; Germany's largest newspaper, The Bild has thrown its opinion in favor of GW, while most other German papers are endorsing Kerry; even in Great Britain, The Guardian has actively tried to interfere with the Ohio vote and one of their writers seemed to be pleading for an assassin for the President. Personally, I say 'stuff it' as far as foreign newspapers or foreign leaders opinions, their choices are of no concern. Now I know I had my opinion of what choice I would have made if I was an Australian, but I'm not and have no influence in Australia or even with any Australians living in the US.

Lawrence Kaplan, in today's WSJ Online, has an op-ed regarding some other foreign leaders' opinions on our elections. The difference with these leaders and the above, the choice will seriously impact them, in a very physical sense. His early point that while 'most' Iraqis have more immediate concerns, the 'elite' for want of a better term, have serious concerns:

We know what John Kerry thinks of Iraq. But what does Iraq think of him? Since he may soon be presiding over a war there, the question merits an answer. Yet, while the press has devoted page after page to the electoral preferences of the French, the opinions of those who count most overseas have received nary a mention.
Partly this derives from the simple fact that, as polls show, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't care who wins our election. Their concerns run closer to home--especially how to stay alive. There's an exception, however: the thousands of academics, lawyers, rights advocates and other educated elites leading the effort to create a new Iraq--nearly all of whom have hitched their fortunes to our own and nearly all of whom hope that President Bush wins.
Liberal Iraqis repeat the same question: Will the U.S. leave? These, after all, are the Iraqis building institutions, occupying key positions in ministries, and cooperating openly with the U.S. And they're the Iraqis with the most to lose in the event John Kerry makes good on his pledge to "bring the troops home where they belong."

This prospect, once unimaginable, has become very real in Iraq. The fear of abandonment has transformed meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials, until recently arenas for grievance, into forums for the expression of solidarity. Leading Iraqis stayed up late into the night to watch the presidential debates. "Sophisticated Iraqis are listening closely," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie says in a telephone interview. "Any discussion of withdrawal worries them." Echoing this, Manhel al-Safi, who recently left his post as an aide in the prime minister's office for a job in the Foreign Ministry, says, "There's a level of fear--people in the government are afraid the Americans will leave Iraq." He adds a personal plea to Sen. Kerry: "Mr. Senator, destruction is easy; building takes a long time."

Such fears haven't been spun out of whole cloth. As far as Iraqi elites are concerned, President Bush brought democracy to a land that knew only dictatorship. From Sen. Kerry, however, they hear no commitment to build a liberal state or, for that matter, any state. What they hear instead is a presidential aspirant who complains about "opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," even as his campaign aides dismiss Iraq's prime minister as an American "puppet."


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