Iraqi Election Day

A Resounding Success

     Iraqi election polls closed only a matter of hours ago, and by every assessment the event was successful beyond all expectations.  Reporters gushed respect and enthusiasm for a population who came out in droves despite direct terrorist threats of beheadings and suicide bombings.  Terrorist leaflets warned the streets of Baghdad would be awash in the blood of those who would participate in the "infidel's election."  It didn't happen.  Isn't it astonishing that a higher per-capita number turned out to vote in Iraq than we see in our own American elections where there is no threat to safety?

     I'll bet you couldn't suppress a spreading smile as you watched some of the jubilant dances that broke out around polling stations.  Well, some probably could.  The election that transpired today represents a huge victory for our troops and for the Bush Presidency.  For the terrorists and for heavy-handed autocracies throughout the Middle East it is a stinging humiliation.  And in the Arab world, humiliation must be avenged.  Even though there were various attacks throughout election day in Iraq, security planning was so well executed that the people came out in droves.  The latest estimate I heard told of some forty-five killed in mortar and small arms attacks, a few of which were Iraqi police, and one American soldier.  It was heartbreaking to see the covered body of an innocent young Iraqi woman who had been blown to pieces as she tried to make her way to a polling station.  Osama bin Laden, al-Zarkawi and their ilk no doubt took some consolation.

 

     Senator Ted Kennedy emerged some 72 hours prior to the election to proclaim that our American soldiers in Iraq are "part of the problem, and not part of the solution" in that self-righteous drone that has become so familiar.  Aljazeera prominently featured the senator's comments, and fashioned an entire news release around his quotes.  "Iraq is a disaster because it's the result of blunder after blunder," was the most prominently featured of his statements.  But he went on, "We no have no choice but to make the best we can of the disaster we created in Iraq.  The current course is only making the crisis worse."  Does he mean the United States was more secure and Iraq was better off with Saddam in power?  Does the Senator know the mileage the Arab media is getting from his statements?  This President took this nation to war under false pretenses; there were no weapons of mass destruction; Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11; you know the rant.  In his speech, billed as a "major foreign policy address," he indicated that America had lost the battle to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people to the terrorist!  Is that what all those celebration dances were about?  The people, eight million of them have defied the threats of the terrorists to participate in a democratic election to choose leadership and write their own national constitution, an American gift which has cost nearly a thousand soldier's lives, and we're told the terrorists have won their "hearts and minds"?

     It's exhausting, isn't it?  Aljazeera also quotes one Juan Cole, Professor of Middle East History at the University of Michigan.  "This election is a joke.  The Bush Administration has created the worst possible advertisement for democracy because the perception across the Middle East is that democracy means you get a country that is completely out of control."  Do these guys and their ideological friends know what aid and comfort they are giving to the enemies of America's sons and daughters?

     Of course, there is certainly some validity to the warnings against "Irrational exuberance."  Cars and trucks will be returning to the streets of Baghdad, and with them the potential for explosive payback for this "infidel victory."  It seems our prayers for our troops and for the success of this unnerving political experiment have been answered in the short term.  But the game is not over.  The troops won't be returning home until Iraq has an elected government and the ability to provide its own security.  The terrorists may have suffered a setback, but they haven't gone away.  If anything; they are feverishly plotting a way to punish us, and the Iraqi people, for what must be a ringing slap in the face.

 

     Iraq has yet many complexities to be overcome.  The Sunni minority was the wealthy ruling class under Saddam.  It is feared they will be under-represented in the formation of a new government.  And there are clannish resentments between Shiites, Kurds and Christians in addition to the ever-present danger of assassinations and random bombings.  But today, millions in Iraq and around the world celebrate.  According to every report; our troops feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride.  I'm betting all but the most cynical of Americans are rejoicing with them and praying for their continued success and safety.

Mark Armstrong

 

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