Earlier today, I wondered about the actual preparations for the apparently coming Iraqi elections. It ain't looking good. From today's LAT:
"The way things are going, the fact that the U.N. has not come forward with its support means we may have to settle for the spring," said a State Department official who declined to be named.
The official indicated that initial timetables had called for thousands of United Nations election workers to be deployed around the country by this time, registering voters, setting up polling stations and training Iraqis to staff them.
Friday, a U.N. spokesman in New York said just eight non-Iraqi staff members were in the country preparing for the balloting and that no significant buildup would begin until a military force assigned to protect election workers was in place.
Carlos Valenzuela, the top U.N. electoral official in Iraq, has said that the election timetable is very tight and that preelection violence "could be a show-stopper."
The piece also flags a little noticed admission by Dep. Sec. of State Richard Armitage that reconstruction projects are employing a total of 77,000 Iraqis. Given that unemployment is probably the single most important recruiting agent for guerrillas--as the military has often said--Armitage got it right when he called the total, "woefully inadequate."
P.S. Kevin Drum has a similar post about the elections.