Iraq’s brilliant example

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The Article

‘Purple-finger revolution’ is a vindication of U.S. policy

For the third time in a year, Iraqis confounded the world as they went to the polls Dec. 15 to electing a new 275-member parliament under the constitution they voted for in October.

Here are a few remarkable facts jubilantly reported soon after polling closed by the widely read Iraqi blogger based in Baghdad, “Mohammed of Iraq The Model”:

– Security provided by the new Iraqi army and police was much improved since the last two elections, in January and October;

– The registered voters listwas increased, adding a million new Iraqi citizens who turned 18 this year;

– The estimated turnout of voters exceeded 15 million.

The credit for such an election—the first of its kind not only in Iraq’s history but across the Arab-Muslim world—belongs to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, which is responsible for the functioning of the country’s new democracy.

Skeptics and cynics will insist Iraqi democracy is a cup half-empty, pointing to the persistence of terrorist violence. But as Mohammed notes, “All the assassinations and intimidation that preceded the election could not stop the process.”

It was not going to be easy to help the cause of freedom in a part of the world that has been most resistant to its meaning and practice. And the dragon of tyranny does not die without thrashing around destructively in its death throes.

On the eve of the vote, U.S. President George Bush said, “We are living through a watershed moment in the story of freedom.” The idea of freedom being infectious, Iraqi Sunnis joined their compatriots, Shiites and Kurds, to vote.

John Burns, Baghdad correspondent for the New York Times, observed Sunnis displaying “new willingness to distance themselves from the insurgency, an absence of hostility for Americans, a casual contempt for Saddam Hussein, a yearning…to find a place for themselves in the post-Hussein Iraq.”

Moreover, Iraq’s purple-finger revolution—the right to vote freely and elect government accountable to the people (voters’ fingers are stained purple after they cast their ballot)—is being watched across the Middle East as the question looms ever larger: If Iraq can be free and democratic, why not then Syria, or Egypt, or any other of the Arab League’s 22 member states?

Recently Fouad Ajami, an Arab-American professor at Johns Hopkins, wrote after a tour of the Middle East, “To venture into the Arab world is to travel into Bush Country.”

The march of Iraqi democracy vindicates Bush. It says how wrong the Democrats are in their shrill opposition to his administration—joining forces with the lunatic left, and abandoning any responsible understanding of history except for clinging to the mistaken lesson of Vietnam, when defeat in Indo-China was engineered by a most self-indulgent generation of Americans at home.

Iraqis have proven how cynical remains the politics of old Europe, the extent to which France will indulge dictators in pursuit of imaginary grandeur, and how corrupt the United Nations is in accepting bribes (as the oil-for-food scandal revealed) while remaining oblivious to yet another African genocide in Darfur.

The Iraqi vote also exposes the empty platitudes of our own Paul Martin and the lib-left, and the widening disconnect between Canada’s sense of purpose and its increasingly inconsequential foreign policy of appeasing rogue regimes gathered at the UN.

Iraqis have a distance to go in consolidating their freedom.

They know best, however, what failure would mean, and this knowledge is their guarantee for securing Iraq’s democracy while honoring the memory of American, British and coalition soldiers who died for their freedom.


Salim Mansur
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