The Right Coast

September 29, 2004
 
Brooks on Violence and Elections
By Mike Rappaport

David Brooks discusses a previous situation where elections were held during an insurgency:

Conditions were horrible when Salvadorans went to the polls on March 28, 1982. The country was in the midst of a civil war that would take 75,000 lives. An insurgent army controlled about a third of the nation's territory. Just before election day, the insurgents stepped up their terror campaign.

Yet voters came out in the hundreds of thousands. In some towns, they had to duck beneath sniper fire to get to the polls. In San Salvador, a bomb went off near a line of people waiting outside a polling station. The people scattered, then the line reformed. "This nation may be falling apart," one voter told The Christian Science Monitor, "but by voting we may help to hold it together."

Yet these elections proved how resilient democracy is, how even in the most chaotic circumstances, meaningful elections can be held.

The elections . . . undermined the insurgency. El Salvador wasn't transformed overnight. But with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved, and the entire hemisphere felt the effects.
This point seems a bit optimistic, but it shows that the assumption that violence will prevent or undermine the legitimacy of the Iraqi elections is not necessarily true.