Sail On, Sail On, O Mighty Ship of State!

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Reason contributor Damien Cave (see his article on Cuba) has a fantastic piece in the New York Times from inside the (usually empty) Iraqi parliament.

Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.

Part of the problem is security, but Iraqi officials also said they feared that members were losing confidence in the institution and in the country's fragile democracy. As chaos has deepened, Parliament's relevance has gradually receded.

I'm puzzled; if this is the state of Iraqi democracy, why doesn't the Bush administration or some affiliated war-booster use it to shame that meddlesome majority of Americans who don't back the surge? Oh, right… the incompetence.

"Most of them were here for the game, for prestige, for the money," said Muhammad al-Ahmedawi, a Shiite member of the Fadhila Party. "It's upsetting and disappointing. We want the members to come, to pursue the interests of their constituents, especially in this sensitive time."

Mr. Ahmedawi said politicians who had larger shares of power before the elections seemed to view Parliament as a demotion best ignored. Mr. Allawi, for example, who did not return calls to his London aides requesting an interview, has been rallying support in Amman and London among exiles who have fled Iraq's violence.

Allawi… Allawi. That sounds familiar.

Q: Mr. President, how do you evaluate Mr. Allawi's visit to America? And in what way—how can we—what the result will be reflected on the situation of Iraq, as a result of this visit?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, I'm glad to be able to look him in the eye—(laughter)—and tell him how much I appreciate his courage. I believe that Iraq needed a strong government to lead the people toward a free world. And this group of gentlemen here are doing just that.

Let's hear it for those gentlemen.

NEXT: The Evil of Privatization

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  1. I’m on board for paying the US CONgress not to work.

  2. The Wine Commonsewer’s very able and well-regarded sentiment notwithstanding, if I had any last remaining teeny tiny vestige of support left for the proposed Bush plan of sending 21,500 more troops to Bagdad…it’s gone now that I’ve read this.

  3. Longfellow weeps for us all. What the hell are we doing there?

  4. “What are we doing there?”

    “We” ripped the lid off Pandora’s box and the factions are now free to slaughter each other in full view of the Western press. So “we” have a guilty conscience and would rather spend more American blood and treasure to try to put the lid back on than pull out and be blamed for causing more horrible killing.
    If America hadn’t been involved in this fiasco and Saddam had simply lost control and the
    slaughter started up, then most Americans would
    have no more interest in intervening than we
    currently do in Darfur, Burma, or any other hell-hole where traditional Western values aren’t culturally inshrined.

  5. I might dodge a few bullets in order to pick up 120K for sitting around and doing nothing. Let’s see. Sorry, that’s just my class envy showing again 🙂

  6. Oops – scratch the “Let’s see.” I was part of train of thought I lost and thus tried to erase…

  7. I’m on board for paying the US CONgress not to work.

    Great idea, the more like Iraq we can become the better!!

  8. Do you honestly think that your countrymen are so barbarous that you need a strong government to protect you from their death squads? And what is keeping these murdering wannabees from joining the government?

    It must be a terrible thing to live in fear…

  9. even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000

    Is that US dollars? Wow, that is a lot of money by Iraq’s standards.

  10. “Do you honestly think that your countrymen are so barbarous that you need a strong government to protect you from their death squads?”

    Don’t fool yourself that “your countrymen” would behave any differently than the Iraqis in the same situation.

    Germany was in many ways the most civilized country in Europe.

    If a Protestant terrorist group was carrying out a campaign of torturing and murdering Catholics at the rate of a couple hundred per day, and was destroying Catholic churches, in the hope of sparking a Catholic-Protestant civil war, and there was no centralized power strong enough to stop them, do I think American Catholics would eventually reach the point that they’d take the bait? Hell yes.

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