January 30, 2005

Iraqi Elections

A democratic Iraq is a lot closer today. The polls are closed in Iraq after the first post-Saddam elections - and the only free and fair modern election in that country. Iraqis, Americans and Britons died voting and protecting voters. Cowards strapped bombs to their bodies to turn themselves into suicidal weapons. Yet the rough estimate right now for turnout is 60%. That turnout is lower than expected but most of the drop seems to be in Sunni areas.

A good number of both Americans and Iraqis arbitrarily pegged 50% as the threshold for successful Iraqi elections. That's funny, if only because so many American elections hover around 55% turnout. Regardless, it appears they've met that standard. Kudos to the Iraqis that voted for peace.

The naysayers are out in force to try and jinx the election. It's mind-boggling how these people, who almost unanimously scream about democracy at every turn during our elections, could be so critical. The answer is obvious why they do this: they don't want Bush to get any success. They'd rather see the Iraqis' freedom thwarted, the region plunged into chaos and the country divided into civil war then admit that Bush did something right on purpose.

It's a wider version of the little kid who gets fouled in basketball and then decides to leave and take the ball home with him. In this case, the Democrats lost several consecutive elections and have failed to block the war, and they want the Middle East to go to hell so they can be proven right.

Kerry got up today saying the real victory is about a coming-together in the next few days and whether the country can reconcile its internal differences. Ass. Way to jinx the election, man. This is a time for the Iraqis to celebrate the elections as a time of national energy, unity and opportunity. Reminding them "hey, you have lots of work to do, you're all supposed to hate each other and this is a meaningless occasion" is just trying to throw cold water on a happy people who've had very little cause for happiness these last few decades. Again, what an ass. Thank God he's not President.

There are others, of course. The beginning of this month saw blogger David Mason predicting that the Bush Administration would cause massive civil war in Iraq, followed by a Shi'a fundamentalist regime and then of course the canceling of US elections and Bush's covert support of both 9/11 and 'the next' terrorist attack. Obviously a raving loony who is not representative of the comments of the left (though perhaps more are thinking closer to this than they let on publicly). But WHY somebody is being so negative is an interesting question to me.

Especially humorous is this line from the same blog: "There are dictators in Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia who are all sitting on militant Muslims of their own, and these dictators have to perform a delicate tiptoeing act to appease them. They all knew this could set off a conflagration for the ages. And, they warned us about it." In other words, these dictators are GOOD guys doing a valuable service and our security is dependent on the LACK of democracy in Muslim and Arab states. That's absurd. That's the argument used by very conservative Cold Warriors to create friendly dictatorships and to topple elected governments at the first whiff of red allegiance.

That's supposed to be against everything the left stands for in foreign policy. They used to be against realism and the stark national-interest-only crowd, and against the do-nothing isolationists - both on the grounds of idealism and humanitarianism. They're supposed to be against friendly dictatorships and for supporting democracy abroad. But this reveals the true impulses of some of the crazy lefties.

They were against the conservatives in the Cold War, so they adopted the language of idealism and democracy then. The same kind of people are against Bush and the Republicans in the War on Terror, so they adopt the language of consensus, status quo and pragmatism. Both are aimed at opposing the Republicans rather than either security or ethics. It's absurd. Obviously a good deal of the left has more principle than that, but it appears that they've getting thrown around just opposing whatever Bush does.

Let's just lay it out clearly now: democracy is good for Iraq. I'm proud to think that we're on the side of the reformers and the democrats in Iraq and elsewhere. I'd like to be on the side of the reformers in every dictatorship, and not on the side of propping up a dying dictatorship for the sake of short-term security interests. Our long-term security interest is served by being on the side that will win: democracy. Ultimately the reformers will win because dictatorships are not stable - they don't cater to the needs and the wishes of the middle class, and that ultimately causes they're downfall.

Either we embrace the democratic reformers in toppling dictators or we embrace a backwards despot and force the reformers to turn into radical insurgents to get their cause heard. We cannot prop up dictatorships forever and eventually they will fall. It's our choice whether the new government sees us as comrades-in-arms who share the cause of liberal democracy or see us as a brute imperialist aggressor that seeks to exploit them.

Good luck to the Iraqis. In the coming days there will be more obstacles for them, but today is a happy day for their country. To get them through the hard times, I offer this quote said by Tony Blair (on another issue) a few weeks ago:

"The difference between democracy and tyranny is not that in a democracy bad things don't happen, but that in a democracy when they do happen people are held and brought to account." - Tony Blair


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