“The Kenyan Elections Were Bizarre, And We Stand By the Results”: U.S. Diplomats

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Elections Commission of Kenya Web poll today. To give you an idea of how meaningful this is as a measure of Kenyan public opinion, I myself was able to vote in the online survey. Twice. (I voted “Don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t. Disclosure: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Kenyan.)

It should be mentioned here that a weak point with regard to the use of the legal framework for the 2002 elections, was the interpretation and application of the laws by the ECK. On certain issues the ECK took a practical approach towards a legal problem, which on a number of occasions led to decisions of the ECK which were not in accordance with the law. For example, in contravention of the law, the ECK accepted withdrawals from candidates and replacement of duly nominated candidates after the official closure of nominations. The ECK on certain occasions also adopted an inconsistent or even contradictory interpretation of the law. Furthermore, some of the shortcomings in the law should have been addressed before the 2002 elections, in particular those which raised concerns in previous elections.Joint report of the EU observer mission and K-DOP on the 2002 elections (PDF)

US questions Kenya poll ‘anomalies’ (Thomson Financial).

The US voiced concern today about ‘anomalies’ in Kenya’s disputed presidential election, noting that some constituencies had declared bizarrely high turnout figures.

Actually, as 500 Hats is pointing out, “the U.S.” seems to be issuing dueling press releases on this issue. See also

File provisionally under “message control, catastrophic failures of.”

As Bartholomew Cubbins there points out, the New York Times is pointing to what looks an awful lot like a breakdown of message control between the Department of State and the Nairobi Embassy.

In this case, “the U.S.” — as represented by its embassy — seems to think these elections were plagued by bizarre anomalies.

“The United States is, however, concerned by serious problems experienced during the vote-counting process,” said a US government statement released by its embassy in Nairobi. “These included various anomalies with respect to unrealistically high voter turnout rates, close to 100 percent in some constituencies, discrepancies in the number of votes reported for the respective candidates, apparent manipulation of some election reporting documents, and long delays in reporting results.’

Meanwhile, from the U.S. as represented by the spooks and Moonie-dominated Foggy Bottom, where Paul Wolfowitz’s girlfriend works in the Karen Hughes memorial “blogging for democracy” department:

“The United States congratulates the winners and is calling for calm, and for Kenyans to abide by the results declared by the election commission. We support the commission’s decision,said spokesman Robert McInturff. He reiterated a State Department statement from Saturday that asked Kenyans “to reject violence and respect the rule of law.”

Is there even a legal mechanism for challenging, and potentially overturning, the results? Normally, challenges are entertained and ruled on before ratification.

The United States of America has apparently just said, “Although there are credible reasons to think these election results were phonier than a hot pink and paisley U.S. passport bought from a street vendor in Asunción, we accept them and suggest that democratic-minded Kenyans do the same.”

This looks an awful lot like an example of what I think they call your “double bind.”

Double bind is a communicative situation where a person receives different or contradictory messages. The term, coined by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson and his colleagues (including Don D. Jackson, Jay Haley and John H. Weakland), attempts to account for the onset of schizophrenia without simply assuming an organic brain dysfunction.

I  am beginning to think that only organic brain dsyfunction can explain the kinds of things we are seeing here.

Possible explanation: The U.S. Ambassador in Nairobi is a career diplomat — unlike, say, the U.S. Ambassador in Brazil, who is a Bush Pioneer, tech-sector executive, and serial think-tank founder and visionary.

So what you may be seeing is the career foreign service lining up with their colleagues in the EU observer mission — the “reality-based community,” let us call them — while the State Dept. lines up behind the International Republican Institute and its observer mission — the “faith-based community.”

Which leaves us with a somewhat disturbing question: Who really speaks for the United States in this case?

Another great moment in American public diplomacy.

Meanwhile, perusing Google News, I am noticing that coverage on events in Kenya are focused almost exclusively on the post-election violence — often described in such hysterically alarmist terms as chaos and conflagration and the like.

Those reports require extensive reality-testing.

Is civil disorder generalized or localized?

If localized, localized where? Is it organized or spontaneous? There is very little information of this kind to be had. And most importantly: Who is killing who? And why?

There is nothing but a rising-tide of stories on the rising body count, and news — not widely reported — that police have been given an order to shoot to kill to enforce a curfew.

In which case, how much of the body count has resulted from police violence against rioters or demonstrators?

I suspect an apocalyptic moral panic campaign is in effect here.

These stories of chaotic, apocalyptic violence, magnified by a deluge of alarmist news reporting, will be used to justify the draconian measure of imposing martial law, and the newly elected congress will be nullified, either outright or through limitation of its power to act through some sort of state of exception.

This looks an awful lot like an extremely ineptly managed “soft coup d’etat” with the potential for degenerating into a hard one.

I am going to want to see some Congressional hearings on this massive clusterfsck sometime in the near future.


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