Thanks to clochard for forwarding this to Al-Awda Italia. It is an extraordinarily interesting document written by European Parliament Member and outstanding war journalist Giulietto Chiesa, one of Europe’s greatest journalists and author of several outstanding books, see Giulietto Chiesa and the Ten Commandments of the Empire.
The article below was originally published in Italian on Megachip, Democracy in Communication. It is the testimony and analysis of the Iraqi vote. Chiesa was allowed to be present in a limited fashion in his role as Parliament Member, and he presents us with important information.
We have to thank Internet for the ridiscovery of the article from the New York Times dated 4 September 1967 and entitled: “The Vietnam vote encourages the United States”. The summary which accompanies reads: “The affluence to the polling places is 83%, despite the terrorism of the Vietcong”. The author is named Peter Grose and we can consider him the precedent of contemporary embedded upscale journalism, such as that of the Lucia Annunziata’s and Monica Maggioni’s (Italian journalists) who are all the rage on our television screens, recounting the war of the winners.
The Iraqi vote has encouraged Bush, Blair, Berlusconi and has brought to their knees, literally, the Italian left, who (with praiseworthy and rare exceptions) has believed the same fable of the New York Times of Peter Grose. A fable that the New York Times has repeated, in precisely the same way, 31 January 2005, followed by rote by all of the major newspapers of the Western world, and by all the major Italian newspapers.
They have believed the data, made known in a nebulous and contradictory way by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Note the adjective “independent”, excusatio non petita placed as a seal of elections that have nothing at all of independence.
Fassino, from the tribune of the Congress of the Democratici di Sinistra (Italian left party), thunders that eight million Iraqis went out to vote. The data is, more than false, inexistent. Who gave him the data? No one. Or maybe he made a pondered media of that which he read in the newpapers of the major press that is “independent from the truth”. And he added that “they are the true resistants”. That is like saying that the Iraqi people went to vote en masse, and therefore, is against the armed resistance to the American occupation. That is, the Iraqi people are with the Americans and they are content about the democracy that they have brought to them.
In the same way that Bush, Blair and Berlusconi are exultante, we can add the exultant Piero Fassino.Now, we don’t know if it will end like Vietnam (I fear it will end worse), but we can advance some preliminary observations. the data are all falsified. The Iraqi elections were something other than that which they let us see. A good third of the country certainly did not vote. It was known since the beginning and these farsical elections were organised precisely to isolate the Sunnis, in other words, to split and divide the country.
The Electoral Commission itself (let’s ignore “Independent”) has however stated that 57% of the “registered voters” had actually voted. How many registered voters were there? The precise data has never been furnished. For the banal reason that one does not exist. The point of reference were the “Russian Lists”, that is, the ration cards for food that were distributed in the “Oil for Food” programme in the era of Saddam. But how many registered to vote? Those ration cards (and I have seen them in the polling places of Nassiriya) were often illegible. Others seemed brand new on the other hand. Where did they come from? In other words, nothing was told us about the level of registration in the electoral lists, for which that data, the only official one, tells us absolutely nothing bout the number of voters.
Did some of those not register for fear of terrorists? Certainly in part it was that way. But this clamourously confirms the invalidity of these elections. Again, I am speaking as a witness. At Nassiriya and Basra, in large majority Shiite, the vote took place in a clima of generalised state of seige. The autmobile traffic was blocked for three days. Every polling place was presided by dozens of armed men – the new Iraqi militia – with rifles and brand new uniforms, with snipers on the roofs, road blocks at a great distance, obstacles of armoured cement, and other such barriers. The foreign troops (at Nassiriya Italians, Portuguese and Romanians, at Basra the English) were placed as a defence force for the police stations. What consensus can we speak of under these conditions?
But there is another very significant data: in the polling places opened abroad, where the problems of security did not exist, only 25% of the Iraqis registered to vote. And yet, there was no danger for them to do so!
Certainly there were queues at the polling places: in the south, in the Shiite zones and in the north in the Kurdish zones. Who had seen any of the other places? Do we have to trust the Electoral Commission, composed of persons selected by Allawi and by the councilors of Bremr? And in the polling places of Nassiriya there were only people voting in the morning. In the afternoon, all of the polling places were deserted. And the transparent boxes that I had seen (thirteen places in all) were only half full even though the ballots, with 111 parties, were as big as six protocol sheets, and almost always poorly folded. We saw the queues to the polls on television in the Shiite zones, but nothing else, with the exception of a quick view, no longer than several seconds, of the polling places of Baghdad that were deserted. I had asked several times to the people voting of they found it difficult to bot, with so many parties on the ballot, many of which didn’t even have a symbol of reference. All of them responded that it “was very simple”. And I thought that a ballot like that would have created great comprehension problems even in Italy, where our electoral experience is by now secular.But these are secondary technical details. The most important one is that the Iraqis went to vote without knowing who the candidates were. The parties which were admitted were made known in advance, but the lists of the candidates remained secret for reasons of security!
And, all of this without international observers (I arrived privately, using the invitation given to me by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Britain, together with Emma Nicholson, a European Parliamentarian as well. We travelled aboard armoured cars, each one of us accompanied by eight private body guards, armed to the teeth). On the practice of the international observers a whole discourse to itself should be made. But in some cases they were useful in defending the arrogant behaviour of the powers. At any rate the international tradition foresees that impartial external observers can as needed control the official data and follow the procedure of the vote. But the UN decided against sending anyone. The same thing was done by the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and the European Union: “for reasons of the absense of minimal conditions of security”. The attempt of the Canadian government to constitute a special mission for the control of the elections in Iraq failed as well. The reunion, held on 19 and 20 December of 2004 in Ottawa, behind closed doors, had concluded in a double failure: of the twenty nations invited, only seven, among them Great Britain and Albania, participated. And the conclusion (for them) was desolant: it is impossible to send observers to Iraq itself. In alternative, it was decided to open an office in Amman, Jordan, in which “from six to twelve analysts” would work, to study the data coming from Iraq.
The international community, therefore, had proclaimed, implicity, since the eve of the vote, its evident invalidity. Besides all the rest of this indecent story of modern propaganda, now we know even still less: the gathering of the ballots, there custody, the counting of the votes assigned to ghost parties that are mysterious, ambiguous, blown out of proportion (such as the resurrected Communist Party, which even Berlusconi could affiliate with Forza Italia (party of the Italian right) and which will certainly be used in order to put conditions on the power of Ayatollah Al Sistani), financed from abroad.
But all the movement against the war doesn’t seem to have noticed that it has passively awaited that the propagandistic tempest arrived, the “triumph of democracy”, ala americana, the posthumous legitimisation of the aggression.
Faced with this propagandistic tsunami – something which should be cause for reflection – even in the left, and even in the left farthest left, we have witnessed stuttered excuses, pitiful and shadowy requests for self-critique. We have entered (and we entered it already during the Kossovo war) in the era of the “obligatory sentiments”: when the opinion of the masses, already formulated by the media, forces all of us to give our consent, otherwise we risk to be disqualified, pulled out of the game.
We are not going to go along with this. The Iraqi war remains as illegal as it was from the beginning, and all of the lies that they have prepared remain just that, lies. In the counting of the vote we need to add to that the one hundred thousand innocent deaths of this war, that the “independent” Electoral Commission (together with its Western exegetes) intends upon burying for the second time.
Lastly, a final notation, to future memory. It will be useful to keep in mind that the bosses of the media are content to win with some points given, at the cost of plundering any pretext, given our inconsistency on this decisive terrain. But they are ready to organise the witch hunt and the man hunt, wherever and whenever there should be a popular reaction. How many of us are aware of this fact?
translated by Mary Rizzo peacepalestine