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    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    US Forces Prepare for Big Voting Offensive at All Polling Places

    First of all, this is embarrassing:

    Western officials in Baghdad involved in preparations for the referendum say all military operations should stop before the referendum on 15 October so voters feel it is safe to go to the polling stations.

    "We need a truce [to be announced] by coalition forces for Ramadan", one official told the BBC.

    A similar appeal has been made by the Iraqi ministry of human rights.

    But American military commanders have said operations will continue until the end of the year.

    Sunni political leaders are warning that voters in the western half of Anbar province face unacceptable risks.

    "It is really impossible for these people to go out and vote," says Umar Abdul Sattar of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni political organisation.

    "First of all there are the American offensives and then the threats from the militants that they will kill those taking part in the referendum."

    Second of all, this is embarrassing:

    According to the commission it has even managed to set up polling stations in the regions worst-affected by violence, in particular the vast province of Anbar which stretches out west from Baghdad to the border with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

    The Sunni-Arab dominated province is regarded as the heartland of the insurgency.

    "I'm pretty sure all the polling stations in Ramadi and Falluja will be open," says Hussein Hindawi, a board-member of the electoral commission.

    But he admits that in other towns and villages across the western half of Anbar, such as Qaim, Rawa and Haditha, the situation is much more difficult.

    Some of these have been under the control of militants.

    In some, such as Haditha, there have even been reports of Taleban-style regimes being established.

    This war is so stupid and the fact that we are trying to pretend that we already won it enough to be moving forward with voting is embarrassing.

    What we need to do:
    1. Cancel the vote until Iraqis can actually leave their homes and go to the polls without getting killed. And until there's a constitution worth voting on.
    2. There are two choices for Step 2:
    a. Stop all American air travel for a week or two and get every single Iraqi who wants to escape the insurgency here to the US with food and lodging and jobs.
    b. Reinstitute the draft (this time with women and those in college, graduate, and professional school included) and actually finish this idiotic thing we started with the humanpower necessary.

    Both options are more expensive than anyone could handle. But that's what happens when you start a war you shouldn't without international support.

    If we pick the latter option, I'm very much in favor of drafting first anyone who voted for Bush.

    Of course, we're going to continue to go at this half-way into infinity and, when we finally leave, the country is going to be ten times the mess it was upon our first encounter.


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