Live from Baghdad

My adventures in Iraq.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Iraqi Elections

My apologies for the long delay between posts. To be honest, I've been waiting for something exciting to happen but it's been quiet around here. Reported insurgent activity has been well below normal.

Of course that's all relative. According to yesterday's NY Times, in the week ending Sunday, Baghdad was hit by 7 suicide car bombings, 37 roadside bombs and 52 insurgent attacks involving automatic rifles or rocket-propelled grenades. The suicide bombs alone killed at least 60 people and injured 150 others. Now before my mom freaks out, those attacks were, by and large, targeted towards Iraqis.

Most of the Green Zone has been locked down with movements outside restricted to "Mission Critical" only and inside our protective walls we've been restricted to "Official Government Business" movement. That means no trips over to the PX. We've also been upgraded to "Uniform 3" status, meaning we're wearing our body armor and helmets anytime we're outside a building. Pulling on my bullet proof vest has become almost second-nature, like grabbing your coat on the way out of the house on a cold day. Except this coat weighs 25 pounds and is accessorized with a Kevlar helmet.


We have teams of people deployed here just for the elections. We have public affairs officers to handle all the press that have come back to Iraq now that the tsunami news cycle has worn down. We have "democracy specialists" who are in charge of everything from getting the ballots printed to voter education. I've had a few conversations recently with these specialists who have experienced elections from El Salvador to the Balkans. They are firm believers in the democratic process and believe we will have some level of success here. But like the Bush Administration, they won't define any minimum standards against which to declare a successful vote.

The one thing I will agree with them on is that this will be historic. We just have to wait and see if it will be a triumph of democracy over tyranny or a failure of imperial ideaology.