President Bush said Tuesday that he would be "disappointed" if free and fair elections in Iraq led to the seating of an Islamic government, but that the United States would accept the results. "Democracy is democracy," he said. "If that's what people choose, that's what the people choose."
-- from today's Washington Post
So, the Bush administration doesn't mind if Iran -- a member of the so-called Axis of Evil -- increases its influence in Iraq through flawed elections.
After all,"democracy is democracy"--except in tiny El Salvador, where, in a much less flawed electoral process (procedurally, at least) , the U.S. was publicly worried about a potential a victory by the FMLN in presidential elections earlier this year.
UPDATE, Oct. 25: I guess they don't really have double standards after all. Today's Los Angeles Times reports:
Now that does sound quite a bit more like El Salvador -- circa 1982-84 -- or Nicaragua circa 1990.
While publicly stressing the need for Iraqis to control their own destiny, the Bush administration is working behind the scenes to coax its closest Iraqi allies into a coalition that could dominate elections scheduled for January.
U.S. authorities in Washington and Iraqi politicians confirmed that top White House officials have told leaders of the six major parties that were on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that it would be in the groups' common interest to present a unified electoral slate....
One U.S. official in Washington said the administration now believes Iraq needs a "negotiated resolution … a scaled-back democratic process.
"Between the two conflicting key goals, "I see the arguments for stability now outweighing the calls for democracy," said the official, who declined to be identified. The formation of a unified slate would further entrench the U.S.-allied parties, which are mostly led by longtime exiles with dubious popular support and are still viewed with suspicion by many Iraqi citizens.