Over the past few years, I have observed numerous commentators, pundits, and self-appointed experts of nearly every political stripe describe their views on whether or not the U.S. was wise to have “allowed” early elections in Iraq. Generally the answer to the question tends to lie in the affirmative among defenders of the Bush administration, and in the negative among its detractors. After living in Iraq for nearly four cumulative years following the fall of the Saddam regime, it appears to me that any cogent response to the question is far more nuanced than the yes or no answer it seems designed to solicit.
Nevertheless, I offer this skeletal answer, the basis of which I will seek to explain in this Essay: This is the wrong question to ask. The question, rather, should be, to the extent that early elections take place in Iraq, what is it that the U.S. and the international community might do to limit any civil conflict that might arise as a result, and what are the costs associated with any such policy?
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