WaPo–U.S. Troops’ Role in Iraqi Elections Criticized
The United Nations’ top elections official, Carina Perelli, sharply criticized U.S. military forces in Iraq Wednesday for distributing material urging Iraqis to vote in the country’s elections Sunday.
Perelli and other U.N. officials are concerned that such U.S. military involvement is compromising efforts to convince the Iraqi public that Iraqis are directing the elections.
Perelli said she and the top U.N. election official in Iraq, Carlos Valenzuela, have been “asking, begging military commanders” to stop the distribution of material promoting the elections. Officials from the U.N.-backed Iraqi Electoral Commission have also asked the United States to stop, she said.
“The U.S. military have been extremely, I would say, overenthusiastic in trying to help out with this election,” she told reporters. “And we have been basically saying that they should try to minimize their participation, because this is an Iraqi process.”
Given the stellar efforts of the UN at…highlighting the stellar efforts of the UN, such meaningless turf wars are not surprising coming from the UN. After all, if the UN can’t adequately provide aid to tsunami victims, oversee elections, inform voters, and basically do its job–then their only option is to bitch and moan at the US for doing the UN’s job and doing it better.
On a more coherent note, does this REALLY call into the question the Iraqi role in the elections? Is the notion that the US has a vested interest in a viable election remotely surprising or even controversial? Unless troops are promoting specific political parties, then they are doing nothing at all objectionable.
US troops have far more contact with Iraqis than do UN officials. And only an idiot/UN official/reporter would think that Iraqis don’t realize that the US wants elections to be viewed as legitimate and accordingly, would try to get people to participate. That’s kind of assumed in the whole reason why we’re over there. As soon as the UN even HAS a get-out-the-vote effort, then we’ll talk. Until then, all the UN will do is talk.
(cross posted to LegalXXX)