If the Iraq election…
If the Iraq elections fail to take place in January, or if there are excessive problems with them, it may partly be blamed on >gasp< the United Nations.

The United Nations has failed to fully staff its operation in Iraq, imperiling the timing and quality of the elections there and forcing inexperienced Iraqis to take the lead in preparing for the country’s first democratic balloting, due in January, U.S. officials and election experts said.

Of the 35 U.N. officials in Iraq, only four or five are election experts, U.N. officials said. In Afghanistan, which has a similar-size population, the U.N. had 600 international staff, including 266 election experts, for the first democratic poll this month. A major increase in Iraq is unlikely soon because of deteriorating security and the U.S. failure to quickly mobilize Georgian and Fijian troops for a protection force or provide an acceptable alternative, U.S. and U.N. officials said.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is trying to lower expectations that the United Nations will play a central role in the voting, telling reporters in Ireland on Friday that the world body “is not going to Iraq to monitor the elections in January.”

“Our role is to support and advise the Iraqi authorities as they organize the elections,” he said. “They are responsible for the elections, and they have ownership of those elections.”

Guess Kofi’s trying to hold back some folks just in case the Democrats convince the State Department to ask them to monitor our elections.

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