IRAQI DEMOCRACY….The New York Times has more today about Iraq’s most powerful cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Apparently he’s not happy with the current election plans either:

Spokesmen for Mr. Sistani, who exercises strong influence over Iraq’s majority Shiites, said he was insisting that the election planned for next June must be a direct, popular ballot ? not the indirect caucus election called for in the already-troubled American plan. He is also insisting that any new Iraqi government have a more overtly Islamic character, aides said today.

And he’s not the only one criticizing the United States:

The view that the American elections play a major role in shaping Iraq’s political future is widely held among Governing Council members. Ahmed Chalabi, another council member, said: “The whole thing was set up so President Bush could come to the airport in October for a ceremony to congratulate the new Iraqi government. When you work backwards from that, you understand the dates the Americans were insisting on.”

It didn’t take long for Chalabi to turn on us, did it? I wonder if there’s anyone in the Pentagon who’s still returning his phone calls.

What a mess. It would be nice to think that some of these problems could have been avoided if the administration’s ideologues had been willing to listen to dissenting voices once in a while, and I suppose some of them could have been. But in the end, there was never any chance that Iraqis themselves would choose anything other than a Shiite-dominated Islamic state if they were given a choice, something that’s hardly what the war’s supporters had in mind. The democratic rubber is now hitting the Islamic road.