Foreign Policy In Focus Policy Report: After Iraq?s Wartime Elections: “The failure of the U.S.-backed election in Iraq is not that it was illegitimate for most Iraqis but that the exercise has only deepened Iraq?s sectarian divisions and perhaps moved the country closer toward the specter of a full-scale civil war. Progressives should remain critical of the January 30 election but not for the reasons that most have articulated so far. Many anti-war critics were so busy pooh-poohing the balloting as a farce engineered by the Bush administration that they forgot that Washington had only agreed to the election under Iraqi Shi?ite pressure. The first U.S. plan for Iraq was to hold indirect elections through regional caucuses, a process that would have lent itself far more easily to American manipulation. But Iraq?s Shi?ite grand ayatollah, Ali Sistani, and other Iraqis said no. “

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