"The Iraqi 'government' is a failed state. Virtually no order it gives has any likelihood of being implemented. It has no army to speak of and cannot control the country. Its parliamentarians are attacked and sometimes killed with impunity. Its oil pipelines are routinely bombed, depriving it of desperately needed income. It faces a powerful guerrilla movement that is wholly uninterested in the results of elections and just wants to overthrow the new order. Elections are unlikely to change any of this.
"The only way in which these elections may lead to a US withdrawal is that they will ensconce parliamentarians who want the US out on a short timetable. Virtually all the Sunnis who come in will push for that result (which is why the US Right is silly to be all agog about Fallujans voting), and so with the members of the Sadr Movement, now a key component of the Shiite religious United Iraqi Alliance. That is, these elections lead to a US withdrawal on terms unfavourable to the Bush administration. Nor is there much hope that a parliament that kicked the US out could turn around and restore order in the country."
With news that Iraqi security forces caught, then released, alleged terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last year, Cole explains the issue:
"What I take away from this report is that if the Iraqis cannot recognize a Jordanian master terrorist, the American military has zero chance of fighting the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement in Iraq, because most of them don't even know enough Arabic to distinguish an Iraqi from a Jordanian accent. And if all it takes is putting on weight and growing a beard to disguise oneself, then we're in deep trouble."