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January 31, 2005
OK, OK, Now We'll Help You

The Europeans have decided that Iraq might just like the idea of democracy after all, and have now pledged to support Iraq in its efforts to build the pillars of a representative government:

European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said Monday the Iraqi authorities can count on the support of the 25-nation EU after this weekend's elections highlighted the willingness to move toward a democratic Iraq.

The Iraqi people "are going to find the support of the European Union no doubt about that in order to see this process move on in the right direction," Solana said in an interview with The Associated Press. ...

The EU's head office said on Friday that it wants to funnel $260 million more in aid to Iraq this year to help with the country's reconstruction and increasing democracy.

Europe's support will receive a gracious response from the Iraqis, I'm sure, but the timing and the depth leave something to be desired. The EU couldn't be bothered to lend much of a hand during the difficult months between the handover of sovereignty and the elections; in fact, a number of European heads of state spent their time demanding a delay in the elections. Now that they have been proven wrong, the EU wants to send $260 million as conscience money to pitch in. Wow.

On top of that, Solana continues the passive-aggressive whining that the Left started yesterday about the supposed absence of Sunni voting, claiming that it "marred" the election. The notion that a self-imposed boycott by a political minority that used to wield power over an oppressed majority somehow undermines an election result comes as news to me. It's would be equivalent to saying that a boycott of Afrikaaners in South Africa's first free elections rendered them null and void. Or perhaps memories don't reach back that far:

White conservatives stepped up their demands for a separate, whites-only homeland--dispelling any illusions of support for their Freedom Alliance partners. The government of Ciskei, a homeland where the ANC's popularity exceeded that of the appointed president, broke away from its alliance partners and declared its intention to permit homeland residents to vote. The government in Bophuthatswana--another Freedom Alliance partner facing strong popular opposition--sought armed support from the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging--AWB), prompting the SADF to intervene and to remove Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope from office. With the Freedom Alliance severely weakened, PAC President Clarence Makwetu--another election holdout--announced that group's suspension of its armed struggle, thus opening the way for election participation by its members.

Violence continued, mostly between supporters of the IFP and the ANC, and the TEC authorized rapid training for a 10,000-member national peacekeeping force--an effort that eventually failed. ... The country appeared poised to launch into violence-wracked balloting, when de Klerk imposed a state of emergency in Natal and KwaZulu on March 31, 1994, deploying 3,000 SADF troops to allow residents of the area to defy the IFP election boycott and to go to the polls.

When the elections finally took place on schedule, beginning on April 26, 1994, the government and the ANC had several thousand security forces, with varying degrees of training and authority, in place to prevent serious outbreaks of violence. Remarkably, the violence subsided. A few "exceptional" votes were cast by voters who were disabled or were living outside South Africa on April 26. During the next two days, more than 22 million voters stood in line for hours at some 9,000 polling places to exercise their newly won right to vote. Balloting was extended through April 29. There was no voter registration list, so IEC officials marked voters' fingers with indelible ink to prevent fraud.

The next time the Left tells you that a lack of participation by a significant minority group renders an election invalid, or that the threat of violence undermines its results despite the obvious bravery of the electorate, ask them when they will call for the dissolution of the free South African government.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 31, 2005 6:12 AM

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