Michele Malkin has links to several posts on the third anniversary of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussain. I would like to add another one that is a must read for members of the IKK as it relates to another war in our home-away-from-homeland over 50 years ago. Robert Killebrew's piece in the Wapo gets the Yangban MUST READ seal of approval. In fact, I'm going to blockquote it at length:
There are, of course, many dissimilarities between the Korea of 1953 and the Iraq of 2006; history repeats itself only in outline, not in detail. But the similarities are also striking. Both countries endured a long prewar period of oppression that retarded their political maturation -- Japanese occupation in one instance, homegrown tyranny in another. In neither case had the population ever known self-government. Both newly hatched governments had, and are having, to master new arts of politics, build an army and all the infrastructure of modern governance under fire and face protracted campaigns against implacable foes. There were those in the West in 1953 who doubted that Asians brought into the modern world only recently could master democracy and free-market economies. A half-century later, we hear echoes of this regarding Middle Eastern people.
Certainly South Korea's emergence wasn't easy; it wasn't until 1992 that a truly democratic government was voted in. Meanwhile, though, the country had become a modern state in every other sense, and its progress today would have been almost unimaginable to Westerners in 1953. Iraq, with its comparatively enormous advantages -- above all, its oil wealth -- may well make comparable or even better progress.
The essential ingredient, of course, has been American steadfastness. The role of the United States and its allies in the liberation and development of South Korea is a story so taken for granted that it is sometimes forgotten at home. More than 54,000 U.S. troops died in Korea from 1950 to 1953, and millions more have since served alongside South Korean soldiers guarding the icy demilitarized zone. Great Britain, France, Turkey and other allies served with us under a United Nations mandate during the war. An American military garrison remains in the heart of Seoul, where a bullet-scarred wall is preserved as a memory of the war. After three years of combat, allied and South Korean forces fought the Chinese and North Korean armies to a standstill and then faced a long and tense standoff. Billions of dollars were spent. Behind the armies, modern South Korea emerged.
Because Americans are famously impatient, we sometimes fail to give ourselves credit for the stick-to-itiveness that it takes to do great things. But in hindsight, all of our greatest accomplishments have taken more time than we realized at the start. American democracy took two centuries to reach universal suffrage. Defeating communism took decades and a number of wars -- including the one in Korea.
I just want add one thing about that UN mandate for the war in Korea. That mandate was an accident of history as the Soviet Union (which would have surely vetoed the resolution to help Korea) was boycotting the UN in support of Red China taking a permanent seat in the Security Council (make that two vetoes). If it were not for that, the US would have been leading a 'coalition of the willing' that would have been in fact been mostly American and indigenous forces aided by relatively small contributions from other nations.
It kind of sounds like another war we know about.
While I am on the topic of Korea and Iraq, I just want to give the Zaytun Unit best wishes on their continuing mission.
I like to have blogs with different perspectives on my blog roll so I can see what different folks are thinking. On my click-a-round today, I came across something that was completely different at Kotaji:
Today’s anti-war, anti-occupation demo in Seoul, one of hundreds that were held around the world this weekend, in the biggest show of force from the world’s second superpower(tm) in a long time. The march in Seoul was similar to those around all over the world in calling for an end to occupation and calling for no attack on Iran. More specifically it called for the withdrawal of the so-called Zaytun Division of Korean soldiers stationed near Irbil in northern Iraq. In true Orwellian style the troop division is named with the Arabic word meaning olive - a reference to the olive branch of peace. Surely the Arabic word for imperialism would be more appropriate.
Kotaji is exactly right, the neofascist Korean warmongers have conquered northern Iraq for their own insidious imperialistic purposes. I have the proof in pictures:
Why is "PreSSident" Roh giving such a maniacal laugh? Because the first stage of his secret plan for world domination is almost complete. If you need any more proof, just look closely at the picture. Only an imperialist would hug a baby-stomping member of the military clique.
Cultural imperialism alert! The Korean imperialists have forced local Iraqis to become Buddhist.
Look closely and you might detect the subtle mark of Korea's insidious imperialism. This poor girl has become a cog in the Korean war machine.
But it is not enough to just corrupt the minds of indigenes. Proper imperialism requires ethnic displacement. So the imperialist warmonger Roh has created a secret breeding program for the military clique. Every soldier going to Iraq is given two young women to breed the next generation of warriors. Within a few generations, all of Iraq will be ethic Korean.
With the help of foreign militaries and humanitarian support a half century ago, South Korea has achieved remarkable success in economy and democracy, rising from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Thousands of South Korean soldiers are devoting themselves to helping rehabilitate and reconstruct a war-torn Middle-Eastern nation, repaying the help the country got in the past.
What do the locals think?
Bezar Khidir Haji, 28, an interpreter for Zaytun’s military police unit, said local residents hope South Korean troops will stay longer in the area.
`We’d like Zaytun to stay longer to help rebuild our country,’ said the Kurdish, former English-language teacher. `We know that South Korean troops can’t stay here permanently, but we need Zaytun at least two or three more years. South Koreans are our friends and brothers.’
Of course, they are in the Kurdish zone, the friendliest part of the country. Things might be a little different if they were down in the Sunni part of the country.
Still, it is good to the the Zaytun boys and girls doing good.
An Iraqi local government official has been killed in a traffic accident by a Korean military truck, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) office said Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Korean driver, a corporal only identified by his family name Song, was trying to avoid a car which had cut in front of him on a street in downtown Irbil when he hit the 53-year-old Iraqi official, the office said.
Unfortunately, candle light vigils are not how many Iraqis seem to express displeasure.
I saw the picture below at the Chosun Ilbo dated July 23. The caption reads: "A sand storm recently blanketed the area where Korea’s Zaytun Unit is stationed in Irbil, northern Iraq./Homepage of the Zaytun Unit"
Being the research freak that I am, I started reading on dust storms (the picture is of a dust storm). Lo and behold, I came across the exact same picture at an another web site. It seems that the picture was actually taken at Al Asad, Iraq on April 26.
So I decide to check out the homepage of the Zaytun Unit. Sure enough, the photo was at the bottom of their page. The caption there reads: "신이시여, 이것이 진정 모래폭풍 맞습니까?" (roughly: God, is that really a sand storm?). The caption there doesn't claim that it is a picture of the Zaytun base but I can understand why someone at the Chosun would have assumed it was.
No harm really, I just think someone at the Chosun might want to pull the picture.
In the previous post I said; The fact that Iraqis will also be choosing provincial assemblies is important. I then went off on a tangent without explaining why it is important.
As I said before, by using proportional representation (PR), election administrators made so that depressed turnout in some parts of Iraq would warp the composition of the assembly. With turnout in Sunni areas apparently low, what many people worried would happen has come to pass. For this problem I blame the UN hack who came up with the idea of a single ballot, nation-wide PR election and whoever in the Coalition Provisional Authority (or the Iraqi government) who agreed to it.
One way to address that problem is for some additional seats to be assigned to Sunnies, but it might be difficult to choose who would take those seats and it would certainly be nondemocratic. After all, which group of self-selected Sunni leaders should be selected.
This is where the provincial assemblies come it to play. Since they were elected by the people in their respective provinces, they would have much more legitimacy in choosing representatives from their province than would a Shiite-dominated national assembly. If you are a Sunni in Al Anbar province, who would you trust more to pick your representative; the national assembly or the Al Anbar provincial assembly which was chosen by the people who braved terrorists and insurgents to vote in that province?
Of course, the ideal solution would have been to have had provincial-based elections but I think this is the next best thing.
I just want to take a moment to send best wishes from this little corner of Korea to the Iraqi people as they take part in their first multi-party elections. Here Iraqis will be voting for and how (provided by the Associated Press):
WHAT'S ON THE BALLOT: Each voter will be given two paper ballots — one for the 275-member National Assembly and the other for provincial legislatures. Voters in the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq will receive a third ballot for the self-governing region's parliament.
HOW WILL THEY VOTE: Each voter will be led to a cardboard booth to mark the ballots. Voters will choose one party list from 111 possible lists, with the number of candidates seated from each party determined by the party's percentage of votes nationwide. Once the ballots have been marked, the voter hands them to an election worker who drops them into a ballot box. The voter then proceeds to the final station, where an election worker marks his or her hand with indelible ink to prevent repeat voting.
The fact that Iraqis will also be choosing provincial assemblies is important. Because the UN decided that Iraq should use a proportional representation (PR) system in which Iraqis vote for party slates rather than individual candidates and parties gain seats in the legislature based upon the percentage of votes they get.
I dislike PR as a general rule. Among other things, it creates unstable minority or coalition governments in parliamentary systems (Italy comes immediately to mind) and sometimes gives an official government platform to extremist parties.
For reasons why PR might not be right for Iraq, I give you an old piece from Michael Rubin (Warning to blue-staters; you are about to read something from a guy with a suspiciously 'neo-con' name. You may want to shield your eyes.):
Liberal Iraqis favor constituency-based elections. The Transitional Administrative Law calls for a 275-member National Assembly, which translates into each district's member representing approximately 87,000 people. Contests would occur not between parties but between individuals, who would be accountable to local residents rather than party bosses...
The party-slate system will not bolster representation. Many Iraqis share ethnicity but not local interests. Tel Afar, a town of 160,000 east of Mosul, is 95 percent Shiite Turkmen. Its Turkish-speaking residents have little in common with Turkmen in Erbil or Kirkuk. The party-slate system might also undercut religious freedom. Christians, for example, represent less than 3 percent of Iraq's population. They remain concentrated in towns such as Alqosh, Ainkawa and Duhok. Many Christians do not support parties such as the Assyrian Democratic Movement. Without district-based elections, they may find themselves without representation. Smaller religious communities that do not have their own political parties but who live in clustered districts may find themselves without political representation in the important constitutional process.
Another advantage of single-member districts is that we would be able to deal with one major problem facing today's election; uneven voter turnout. In Shiite and Kurdish areas, up to 70% of eligible voters may come out. In Sunni Arab areas, turnout might be less than half of that. The net effect of this imbalance in turnout will be that the Sunnies will be underrepresented in the assembly.
If the Iraqi election had been based on the Single-Member District Plurality system (SMDP, as used in the USA and Britain, among others), then Sunni-dominated areas would send their representatives to the legislature regardless of turnout discrepancies since every district would send somebody.
On the other hand, using SMDP might have also been difficult for one simple reason; it would be extremely difficult to draft legislative districts before a government was in place. One of the incoming legislature's main jobs will be to set up Iraq's permanent electoral system. Perhaps they will draft districts for Iraq's next round of elections.
A logical compromise would have been for using a PR system but having the vote based upon each of Iraq's 18 provinces. That would have gone a long way towards ending problems associated with regional variances in turnout. It would not have been without problems (allotting legislative proportions to the districts would be difficult without accurate census data) but I think it would have been the most workable system.
In any case, I just want to repeat my best wishes to the people of Iraq from this little IKK outpost.
UPDATE: The picture on the right worries me a little. That ink, if designed correctly, will take a couple of days to wear off, even with washing. In areas with a lot of terrorists, those ink markings could be a death sentence for those that fall into their hands. There have already been reports of suicide bombings.
UPDATE 2: While many pundits I have read think that religious parties will dominate the election, at there are at least some signs that moderates will do well:
Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi may gain the most support in the National Assembly election Jan. 30 because he appeals to all sides of the nation's religious and ethnic divisions, according to interviews with voters and the latest opinion poll.
Iraqis will elect a 275-member assembly that will choose a president and two-vice presidents. They will appoint a prime minister. Secular parties, including Allawi's Iraqi List coalition and the Kurdish Alliance, are likely to win the most seats.
``People have agreed it's in their interests to elect Allawi prime minister,'' said Rime Allaf, an Iraq analyst at Chatham House, a London foreign-policy institution that advises European governments. Many Iraqis ``don't want a religious government.''
A poll by the International Republican Institute, a nonpartisan U.S. research group, showed that almost 60 percent of Iraqis say Allawi, a Shiite, has been effective since taking office. The survey was based on 1,903 interviews from Nov. 24 to Dec. 5 and had a margin or error of three percentage points.
Predictably, the Hankyoreh (Korea's main leftist paper) isn't happy about it. After giving some platitudes about how the visit much have been an encouragement to the troops, they started making up reasons that the visit was wrong:
Nevertheless, his visit had inherent problems that are no less significant. Over the long run, it was a critical mistake for openly supporting and assisting the US's unjust invasion of Iraq. Korea has lost all chances for the slightest bit of "sympathy" for having sent troops in the name of "peace and reconstruction" out of being unable to resist American pressure. One worries the president's visit will incite local resistance elements and in doing so actually have the effect of putting soldiers in danger.
Two notes for the Hanky. First, if Roh is serious about pursuing a more 'independent' foreign policy then he can hardly take the line that Korea is in Iraq because the US made them go. I realize that Roh had taken a similar line last year (that Korea had no choice) but that was just to buy some coverage with members of the Uri party on their vote to deploy the troops.
Second, the Korean troops are in Kurdistan the Kurdish part of Iraq. The only 'local resistance elements' in the area are some fundies bottled up in a couple of villages on the Iranian border. The 'local resistance elements' in Iraq are Sunnis who fear losing power in a democratic Iraq. The Kurds are fine.
So, given that their concerns are bunk (which I think they know) what is their real worry? Look at the last paragraph:
Members of the National Assembly who have noted that sending troops to Iraq was unjust and worked against the Assembly bill to extend their time in Iraq must keep from being losing strength and getting discouraged in the wake of the president's visit.
There you have it. Roh has tied himself politically to the deployment. This certain strengthens the hand of Uri party members who want to extend it (The Grand National Party is already on board).
In fact, with Uri' four major projects in one former of trouble or another, the deployment extension might be the most significant piece of legislation to come out of the Kuk Hoi this year. That is certainly not something the folks at the Hanky are happy about.