Monday, January 31, 2005

About those elections in Iraq

There has been much commentary by some of the leading intellects of the free world about the elections in Iraq this weekend. For my two cents (I do not fit into that above category, by the way):

-- First and foremost, and big BRAVO to the Iraqi people. I don't know that there are many "people" out there who, having endured years of brutal dictatorship only to become the targets of an almost-equally brutal insurgency, would have the desire to hit the streets in defiance of an all-too-well publicized threat from from the leader of said insurgency. The fact that millions did so is a testament to the strength of those long-oppressed people. And then you get to the bonus material: the lines that people willingly endured, the distances that hundreds if not thousands of people marched as if on a pilgrimmage just to ring in democracy in Iraq--it's enough to make a generally heartless guy like myself well up. Truly inspirational--and I personally thank the Iraqi people who participated in the elections for being brave enough to usher in a new era in their lives--maybe even in the world. I guess time will tell. . .

-- Secondly, I do not want to trivialize the attacks of yesterday (the count I'm using is 9 attacks with 44 dead and more wounded), but I do want you to think about these ingredients: a) The leader of the insurgency said that all those who participated in the election would be targets of his movement and predicted attacks that would kill by the thousands; b) the no-kidding targets yesterday (from a strategic standpoint, the targets HAD to be the places where the people would vote) could not have been more plainly broadcast if there were spotlights, balloons and marching bands outside of each polling spot; c) from all the reports I've heard, there were lines OUTSIDE the polling spots at several locations, some lines with less-than-trivial numbers of voters in them--and let's not forget about the pilgrimmage I mentioned above, the 13-mile march in the middle of the streets--where a person who actually DID want to take the fight to the participants in the election could do some serious damage with nothing more than an automatic rifle. With those ingredients, who could have imagined that today's big story out of Iraq would be the successful election? The fact that Zarqawi's initiatives were so. . .what's the word?. . ."ineffective" means one of three things to me (or maybe all three): the leadership of the insurgents isn't all it's cracked up to be; the organization of the insurgents is virtually non-existent at this stage; or the U.S. and Iraqi-led security forces have really done some AMAZING things to further the security of the Iraqi people. Think about it: speaking strictly logically (and therefore devoid of any human emotion) here, yesterday's election could have been the chance for Zarqawi to assert total control over Iraq once and for all. I mean, how hard is it to get one of his death-seeking messengers to strap some explosives to his chest and walk into a big crowd, or to tell one of his more trusted operatives to take an AK-47 and some magazines and get a good vantage point on a polling place and wait for the line to get lengthy? Properly timed operations in the mid-morning and early afternoon would have had a good chance of dampening Iraqi spirit to participate--and sent a message to everybody watching that there was no "organized" way of opposing Zarqawi's vision of the future of Iraq. And just to reiterate, Zarqawi's "targets" could not have been more lame-duck if they were, in fact, lame ducks in the middle of a street in Baghdad. For Zarqawi's attempts to stifle the vote to have been so limited in both number and scope tells me that either he and/or his organization: did not see or prepare for yesterday in accordance with their previously-stated opposition to the election; did not act yesterday in accordance with whatever plans were in place; or were unable to fulfill their mission because they had been detained or otherwise neutralized. I don't know which of the three conclusions is correct, but I do know the following: however it happened, I'm sure glad it happened that way!

-- If you had relied on the MSM for all of your pre-election coverage, you would have never guessed that the results of the election yesterday would be so encouraging. If, on the other hand, you visited certain blogs on a weekly basis, you would have known almost a month ago that there was a huge desire of the Iraqi people to participate in the election; you would have known that security operations in Iraq in the last couple weeks have been very successful in rounding up high-level members of Zarqawi's group; and you would have known that some acts of violence were expected by EVERYBODY but that the goal of limiting the insurgent's influence on the process was fully attainable. In other words, one medium would have given you agenda while the other would have armed you with the proper information. Throw another log on the ever-increasing fire that threatens to burn down the last bits of MSM credibility.

-- I read a great article on Captain's Quarters about how "Old Europe" had taken a much more positive tone about the elections in Iraq than had leading members of the Democratic Party. I can't help but think that this is a great opportunity for someone of the Dem Party to take a "moderate" tone in advance of the national election in 4 years. Let's face it: the majority of Americans are going to read today's news out of Iraq and they are not going to say that the election was a "farce" or demand a withdrawal of forces to let the Iraqi government make it on their own. And to go further: while it may be months or years in the future, at some point it's probably a good bet that most of America is going to see Bush and Allawi's push to get the elections done yesterday as the right course, both for Iraq and for America. So far the Dem leadership has refused to accept such a mindset as a likely outcome for their constituents--a potentially deadly course for them to take! I mean, it's not like anybody has to actually say the hated words "Bush was right"--they should give credit where the greatest amount of credit is due (to the people of Iraq, followed closely by the appeal of democracy to an oppressed people) and say that they are encouraged for the future of the people there. That's it. There's not a pro-Bush sentiment that needs to be made--just stop denigrating the sacrifice of the people that made yesterday possible! I look for good ol' Sen Liebermann to be the first Dem to speak contrary to what the media-darling talking heads are saying. . .and could Hillary be far off?


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