In the opinion piece “Election year blinders” Mr. Horne uses buzzwords like “free” and “historically low levels.” For instance, Horne mentions that the elections in Iraq, while open only to 60% of the population, are 60% more free than under Saddam. However, the issue at hand is not how many people participate in the election. 60% participation is a nice number, but in reality only slightly more than 50% of the eligible voters participated in the 2000 United States Presidential election. Instead, it matters who is allowed to vote. Iraq’s population is comprised of two large, and bitterly opposed, factions: 60% Shiite and 37% Sunni Muslim (the other 3% are Christian).
The proposed constitution has not been signed because the widely divergent religious and political factions in Iraq are so opposed to ceding what they view to be unclaimed power to the other side. That is, no faction is ready to truly use the democratic system of compromise we take for granted. So, the partially free elections run the real risk of all but ignoring the large minority. Furthermore, the minority in Iraq is not treated as minorities here are, but rather would see no end to religious and political persecution.
There are casualties in any war. This is an unfortunate reality, and I am glad that they have been held to the “historically low levels” Horne mentions. However, I don’t believe that liberals are opposed to the war, or even the resulting casualties. Rather, they are opposed, as Horne correctly points out, to the method with which the war was conducted. Not only did we enter Iraq on a false premise, our plan of action was, and still is, quite shortsighted. American casualties grew each month after Baghdad was captured and the war declared over. The optimistic numbers of trained Iraqi security personnel cited by both Bush and his apparent puppet Iraqi information minister have been shown, repeatedly, to be grossly incorrect.
Horne is arguing quite clearly that the end justifies the means, but I believe that the end is still not in sight.