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Crucial Elections in Iraq

Election campaign posters are seen along a street in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, March. 1, 2010. Iraq's national election is set for March 7. (AP)

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National polling Sunday in Iraq — just the second vote for a regular parliament since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The stakes are huge for Iraqis — whether the country hangs together in a stable democracy or slides back into chaos. And for the United States — President Obama has promised all combat troops out by September 1 this year.

If Iraq goes up in flames after the election, that promise gets a lot harder to keep. There’s been a spate of bombings already. Iran and other neighbors are leaning in.

This hour, On Point: A crucial vote — and a big test for Iraq and the American exit.


From Baghdad we’re joined by Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq since April 2009. Prior to his posting in Baghdad, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Also from Baghdad, we’re joined by Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and its At War blog. He’s reported recently on the election run-up in Nasiriya. His essay “The Long, Long Shadow of Early Missteps in Iraq” appeared on Feb. 19.

And from Cambridge, MA we’re joined by Ali A. Allawi, former Iraqi Minister of Trade (2003-2004), Defense (2004-2005), and Finance (2005-2006).  He’s author of “The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace” and “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization.”

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  • cory

    Yup. We’ll be outta there in no time.

  • Gary

    We will be out of there when cheap oil stops flowing…

    Today you will be voting for either: Puppet regime A, or Puppet regime B…choose wisely. Hey, they have a true democracy now…How many times have I had this same choice.

  • Todd

    “Today you will be voting for either: Puppet regime A, or Puppet regime B…choose wisely. Hey, they have a true democracy now…How many times have I had this same choice.”
    Posted by Gary

    @ Gary:
    Yup, you hit the nail square!
    And America will NEVER be out of Iraq. The Iraq war is much too effective of a money-laundering operation for the ruling oligarch to be ended.

  • Steve V

    Jack from Chester (Vermont) said it all – if the main export in Iraq was cucumbers would we be there today? The fact that other countries are getting much of this oil wasn’t our plan but just the way it worked out. One other observation. If we had this (the invasion of Iraq) to do over would we have? Of course not. Any more than Vietnam would have occured knowing what we know now. Remember the old saying: If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If the only thing you have is a very large military…..

  • ebutler

    The argument that the invasion of Iraq was not about oil because it has now cost our country more than the oil it supposedly was meant to protect is specious. The fact is the “planners” of this war totally mis-estimated how long, how many, and how much. Their numbers made it look like it WAS a worthwhile move re: oil issues. It’s only now that the true cost suggests it was not an oil move.

  • Alex

    “The argument that the invasion of Iraq was not about oil because it has now cost our country more than the ol it supposedly was meant to protect is specious.”

    I agree. It is important to remember that while the cost is born by the taxpayer, the profit goes into the pockets of private companies. Like somebody said above: it is a money laundering operation.

  • http://z15.invisionfree.com/Augusta_Alternative/index.php?act=idx John Randolph Hardison Cain

    Ali A. Allawi admits that the pretexts for the U.S. war were unfounded and the U.S. invasion of Iraq may have been illegal. Nevertheless he expects Iraqis will “move forward” with the present system. Allawi claims Iraqis are happy to have the U.S. Air Force “cover” their skies. Allawi also admits that he expects the U.S. to have an ongoing military presence in Iraq far beyond 2012.

    A consensus of historians now agree that the pretext for the U.S. war in Vietnam was false, and it was an unnecessary and mistaken war. The Vietnamese have forgot and forgiven because all U.S. troops were forced to leave Vietnam.

    As long as U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and that IS the plan, then a significant number of Iraqis will resist the continuing U.S. presence. That means the violence will not end until U.S. occupiers are forced to leave Iraq and those Iraqis who supported the U.S. presence are out of power.

  • Ken

    It sickens me to think of another American young man or woman sacrificing their life to support such a wasteful undertaking… not to mention the US taxpayer dollar cost.

    When George Bush and his son concurrently in office watched thousands of US military personnel deployed to Iraq, (many of whom returned in body bags)
    we as a nation should have resisted decisively.

    The notion of our young people in Iraq and Afghanistan is such a waste.
    We need to support Obamas’ intent to remove all our military by September or sooner… never to return.
    Let the Iraquis stand alone. If they wish to explode road-side bombs …
    at least conduct that activity with no loss of American life !

  • Michael

    wow with a guy like Ali A. Allawi, who needs a neo con,

    He couldn’t even admit the Invasion was illegal, He also failed to mention the reason why the iraqi central government’s refusal and opposing the oil Law and the PSA agreements

    Hassan Jumaa, President of Iraqi Federation of Oil Union

    The Iraqi oil deal set to go before the country’s parliament next month could spell the end of the country as a nation state, and signals a major Bush victory in the war. The proposed law not only opens the door to the big international oil companies, but offers them lucrative contract deals, and even a place on the national oil board that will run the industry.

    The Byzantine scheme for dividing up oil revenues on the basis of population is little more than a facade for the biggest rip off of resources since the British barged into Mesopotamia more than a century ago.

    While the deal, on its face, splits up control of Iraq’s oil among Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, the real power remains in the hands of international companies that will craft contracts with Iraq’s regional entities and put up most or all of the money for exploration, development of infrastructure, and actual production, primarily through financial devices known as production sharing agreements. These agreements, which are not widely used in the industry, typically involve a public and a private partner, and stipulate that oil revenue will first go to the private partner to cover expenses and exploration costs. In Iraq, those costs are likely to be considerable since the industrial infrastructure will have to be rebuilt in many areas and much of the country’s oil has not yet been mapped. Arguments between the parties will be settled by tribunals outside Iraq.

    The new law would give the international companies the right to set the rates of production of each oil field. These fields are immense; a single one can account for 10 percent of the nation’s budget.

    “Sovereignty is surrendered with this law,” Ewa Jasiecz of Platform, the London-based group that has followed the evolution of the new law, tells Mother Jones from London. “Their dealings are secretive, in English. Disputes will be settled by international tribunals in Paris or Geneva. They operate outside Iraqi law.” (Platform has published an extensive critique of Iraqi oil politics here.)


  • Ishmael

    That little twit going on and on about how the illicit origins and nature of the war is now irrelevant is either a sadist, or didn’t lose a wife, son or daughter in this stupid conflict. Or maybe he’s just stupid. As if he’s trying to convince himself of his own ridiculous nonsense.

    Notice how the invasion used the same tactics Saddam Hussein did to beat the citizenry into submission, so that now they are able to “vote” for a Western-approved Tweededum or Tweedledee.

    And when in the name of heaven are we finally going to get an accurate count of the lives lost and maimed by this ridiculous, massive scale slaughter? Hundreds of thousands bludgeoned to death “accidentally”? Killed so that the US can silence the same Saddam Hussein it once vigorously supported?

    I want to hear a radio show with husbands, wives, sons and daughters of victims, telling the airwaves how great their lives are now that they’ve lost their drinking water and theives are running the night. And their relatives are no longer alive. And a considerable portion of the country has simply left.

  • Mark S.

    I would like to hear a program explaining the psychodynamic phenomenon of chickenhawks like Five-deferment Cheney, Pilonidal-cyst Limbaugh, plus Bush, Rove, Kristol, Hannity, Gingrich, W. other drumheads of the cowardly, neo-con right always being hoo-rah, gung-ho to send other peoples’ kids out to die and be maimed in their little ideological wars, and then calling anyone who questions it “unpatriotic.” When I occasionally see these individuals pop up on my TV screen I have a visceral, nauseous reaction until I can grab the remote and click them the hell off. They sicken me…

  • Bush’s fault

    As above, liberals are experts at calling names…what do you expect from those with nothing substantive to say?

    My major disappointment is with Bush 1. Had he only pushed on to Baghdad, Bush 2′s War Against Terror probably could have been completely avoided and saved thousands of American and millions of Iraqi lives. When will we learn that we need to conquer an enemy to adjust his culture, not just chase him back into his comfort zone?

  • Mark S.

    As above, liberals are experts at calling names…what do you expect from those with nothing substantive to say?

    Yeah, right. Like the signs we see at teabagger rallies and the material that Politico.com released in the Repug’s fundraising PowerPoints yesterday. Yer funny, know that? Although not as funny as Steele’s dance over the Repug PowerPoint yesterday. Can’t buy entertainment like that.

    Seeya in Tehran, Rambo.

  • Ishmael

    Given that the country itself is pretty much a disappointment to its citizens, many of whom have left anyhow (a lot of them seem to be more interested in hanging out in Syria), why is this election any more “crucial” than any other?

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