Editorial:

Elections Under U.S. Occupation and Coercion

U. S. government officials, as well as the corporate news media in the U. S., are proclaiming the January 30 elections in Iraq a "victory for democracy" and a "resounding success for the Iraqi people." President George W. Bush has declared the elections a "great and historical achievement."

But such statements are designed to hide the truth, throw sand in the peoples eyes, and cover up the reality of the ongoing war in the country. Iraq today remains under foreign military occupation and martial law, and these so-called elections have not in any way advanced Iraqi sovereignty and national independence.

In fact, the elections touted so much by the U.S. occupying powers are not valid under international law. The 1907 Hague Convention, for example, forbids an occupying power from creating permanent changes in the government of the occupied territory. Other international covenants forbid the occupying power to conduct an election as the U.S. is doing in Iraq. The reasons are obvious: In conducting the election, the US is violating elemental precepts of a "free and fair" election.

News reports reveal that U.S. military forces used heavy-handed tactics, threats and coercion against the people in order to "get out the vote." On election day, for example, heavily-armed U.S. troops went door-to-door in many neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities ordering people out of their homes and to the polling places. Political campaigning and postering was performed not by Iraqis, but by U.S. soldiers. Millions of dollars were provided to many of the candidates by U.S. corporations and the notorious U.S "National Endowment for Democracy" (NED).

The occupying powers used not only threats and intimidation in order to force people to vote, but also imposed an unprecedented series of police measures during and prior to election day -- including shoot-on-sight curfews, travel restrictions, and a ban on cars. Streets were sealed off by miles of barbed wire, and Apache helicopter gunships flew constantly overhead. While U.S. military commanders stepped-up their war against the "anti-Iraqi insurgency," local television and radio propaganda labeled all those who opposed the elections as terrorists or "enemies of democracy."

U. S. officials boast of a large voter turnout, but the truth is that in many regions of Iraq, balloting was made impossible due to ongoing offensive U.S. military operations. In some large cities, such as Fallujah, Ramadi, Sammara, and elsewhere, virtually nobody showed up at the polls.

U. S. imperialism has in fact a long history of organizing fraudulent elections in countries under its occupation and domination. During the last century this tactic was used extensively, such as in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc, etc. Last year, these same "democratic elections" were imposed on the people of Afghanistan. The staging of such elections is not only an obvious absurdity, but also a violation of international law.

No, the elections in Iraq were not held to advance democracy but rather to deceive the people of the world. They were held in order to consolidate and strengthen the U.S. occupation, and "legitimize" those who serve U.S. interests in Iraq.