Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraq plaudit

As I noted in a previous post, I have been following the Iraq election with considerable interest. For months the skeptics and naysayers have been telling us it couldn't be pulled off, and that even if it did take place, the turnout would be so low as to render the whole effort a nullity. Meanwhile, my gut instinct told me the election would indeed be held, and that the turnout would be surprisingly high. Now it appears that my gut, rather than the media pundits, may have indeed been right. The latest information I have is that the turnout may have been as high as 72% of eligible voters, although my wife tells me she has heard that even this figure may be low. (In any event, it was much higher than even I had imagined it would be.) The people who took part in this election -- candidates and voters alike -- richly deserve our praise and admiration. We, who pride ourselves in living in the world's oldest and most stable republic, had a turnout of just over 60% in the recent presidential election. But on the other hand, the Iraqis braved terrorist threats -- and credible ones at that, backed as they were by hundreds of earlier bombings, murders, and other acts of violence -- to turn out in droves to cast their ballots; and thus, they have now taken the crucial first step toward, perhaps, changing the future not only of their own country, but of the entire Middle East. And appropriate praise should go to President Bush as well, for sticking to his guns and making this moment possible. But when all is said and done, this is the Iraqis' moment rather than ours, and on this day they came through in spectacular fashion. May their example serve as an inspiration to those of us who all too often take for granted the right to vote, and even to speak freely.

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