Sunday, December 28, 2008

Legislative backbone in Iraq

From LithiumCola at DailyKos:

Here is the biggest thing I personally got wrong in 2008. Right around May and June, I was convinced that the Status of Forces of Agreement was just a trick Bush was pulling on American and Iraq, and that there was no way to make it anything other than a trick. But, it turned out that a legislative body was able to put checks on Bush's power. As it happened, that legislative body was in Iraq, not America, and it did it under conditions of occupation, scarcity, fear of assassination, and general violence. This example ought forever to be a shame upon the houses of Congress in the United States. It certainly took me by surprise: the Iraqi people non-violently kicked Bush's ass. Whether this ass-kicking sticks -- whether U.S. forces actually do leave Iraq by 2011 -- is another matter, but there is no denying that the Iraqi people did what Congress did not and more than most people in the West thought them capable of. This should give us great pause, anytime we think we know better than people in other countries.

The lesson, there, for me, is that Washington political culture is even more isolated and corrupt than I understood. The sense of political powerlessness on the part of Democrats in Washington was shown to be, by the Iraqi people, completely and totally without warrant. Further, to my knowledge, not one single so-called expert in the traditional media predicted that the Iraqis could or would use the non-violent power of their legislature to check Bush's ambitions.

And, maybe a little overstated but still worth saying:

Speaking of other things the so-called experts didn't get right: everything else. 2008 was, more than any year I can remember, the year that established there is no such thing as socio-political expertise. Certainly, the things that get one a job in punditing about socio-political matters are no more likely to make one an expert than is, say, paying attention to the news, and talking to other people who also pay attention to the news.

Image: Inside the Iraqi parliament, 2007.

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