While the vice president’s Baghdad announcement that the Obama administration will appeal the Blackwater dismissal has gotten most of the attention, check out what he said about the recent purge of Sunni candidates from the March election.
Now, you all are working together to ensure that the March 7th national election will be inclusive, transparent, and fair.
In my talks with Iraqi leaders today, one of the things we discussed was the recent controversy regarding the proposed disqualification of some of the candidates running for election. I want to make it clear: I am not here to resolve that issue. This is for Iraqis to do, not for me.
Good set-up. This is not a U.S. election. Now… pivot?
After today’s discussions, though, I am confident that Iraq’s leaders are seized with the problem and are working for a final, just solution. The issue is not the goal of holding individuals accountable for their past actions, but the process of disqualification itself. Iraqi leaders understand that if the Iraq people and the international community see the process as fair and transparent, it will enhance the credibility of the election.
Let me also be clear: The United States condemns the crimes of the previous regime, and we fully support Iraq’s constitutional ban on the return to power of Sadam’s Baath party. At the request of the Iraqi government, we will help Iraqis living in the United States participate in the election by making out-of-country voting available. We are also prepared to support the request of the U.S. — for U.S. election observers. This support is only one small example of our commitment to Iraq’s democracy.
Soft touch. Maybe too soft? You can’t fairly look at that statement and say Biden blessed the process. (“Iraqi leaders understand that if the Iraq people and the international community see the process as fair and transparent, it will enhance the credibility of the election.”) But you also can’t say that Biden emphasized the dangers of a second sectarian election. Nor did he suggest any international, regional or bilateral downsides to the commission’s purge.