Robert Fisk writes 'What a bloody charade' about the Iraq elections:
“The American Bradley armoured vehicles on the streets, the United States foot patrols, the old Russian personnel carriers that Saddam Hussein bought on the cheap from the Soviet Union - now dressed up in the dull camouflage paint of the new Iraqi army - the hooded and masked policemen: they do not look like the prelude to an experiment in democracy. They are all waiting for the rivers of blood of which insurgents have warned. But there will be democracy in Iraq.
…Many Iraqis do not know the names of the candidates, let alone their policies. But there will be democracy in Iraq.…The media boys and girls will be expected to play along with this. "Transition of power", says the hourly logo on CNN's live coverage of the election, though the poll is for a parliament to write a constitution, and the men who will form a majority within it will have no power. …They have no control over their own oil, no authority over the streets of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police force.
…The "real" story is outside Baghdad, in the tens of thousands of square kilometres outside the government's control and beyond the sight of independent journalists, especially in the four Sunni Muslim provinces which are at the heart of Iraq's insurrection. …Right up to the election hour, US jets were continuing to bomb "terrorist targets", the latest in the city of Ramadi, which - although US President George Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair do not say so - is now in the hands of the insurgents as surely as Fallujah was before the Americans destroyed it.
…There are no "embedded" reporters on the giant American air base at Qatar or aboard the US carriers in the Gulf from which these ever increasing and ever more lethal sorties are being flown. They go unrecorded, unreported, part of the "fantasy" war which is all too real to the victims but hidden from us journalists.
…The reality is that much of Iraq [how much?-ed] has become a free-fire zone (for reference, see under "Vietnam") and the Americans are conducting this secret war as efficiently and as ruthlessly as they conducted their earlier bombing campaign against Iraq between 1991 and 2003, an air raid a day, or two raids, or three. Then they were attacking Hussein's "military targets" in Iraq. Now they are attacking "foreign terrorist targets" or "anti-Iraqi forces": I especially like this one, since the foreigners involved in this violence happen in reality to be Americans who are mostly attacking Iraqis.”
…we'll go on saying "democracy" and "freedom" over and over again, the insurgency will continue and grow more violent, and the Iraqis will go on dying. But there will be democracy in Iraq."