IRAQI ELECTIONS….I keep hoping that the January 30th vote in Iraq can go forward as scheduled, since this seems like the least bad of the alternatives still open to us. But it’s not looking good. The commander of American ground forces in Iraq says four provinces are still too insecure to allow safe voting:

Baghdad is one of the four provinces identified by the commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz as having insecure areas….The other provinces, the general said, were Anbar, which includes Falluja and Ramadi; Nineveh, which contains Mosul; and Salahadin, which includes Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.

So: the four provinces containing the cities of Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, and Tikrit. That’s sort of like an American election in which California, New York, Illinois, and Ohio couldn’t vote. In fact, it’s worse: those four provinces contain about 50% of Iraq’s population.

Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski aren’t very optimistic about the election either:

Rather than leading toward stability, Scowcroft said he feared the election would further alienate Iraq’s Sunni Muslim population and “has a great potential for deepening the conflict.”

….Brzezinski said the United States could meet its goals of producing a reasonably stable Iraqi government “if we are willing to put in 500,000 troops, spend $200 billion a year, probably have the draft and have some kind of wartime taxation.”

I hope they’re wrong. But I fear they’re right.

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