Monday, January 31, 2005

Andrew Sullivan on the Iraq Election

From - Daily Dish:

TO SUM UP: Two years ago, the West liberated Iraq. But yesterday, the Iraqis liberated themselves.

A HUGE SUCCESS: The latest indicators suggest a turnout of something like 60 percent. We'll have to wait for precise numbers and ethnic/regional breakdowns. But if I stick to my pre-election criteria for success, this election blows it away: '45 percent turnout for Kurds and Shia, 25 percent turnout for the Sunnis, under 200 murdered.' Even my more optimistic predictions of a while back do not look so out of bounds. But the numbers don't account for the psychological impact. There is no disguising that this is a huge victory for the Iraqi people - and, despite everything, for Bush and Blair. Yes, we shouldn't get carried away. We don't know yet who was elected, or what they'll do, or how they'll be more successful at controlling the insurgency. There are many questions ahead. And I don't mean to minimize them. But I'm struck by some of the paradoxes of all this. We're too close to events to see them clearly. But the timing of this strikes me as fortuitous. Why? Because by the time of the elections, the insurgents had been able to show themselves as a real threat to the democratic experiment and to reveal their true colors - enemies of democracy, Jihadist fanatics and Baathist thugs. The election was in part a referendum on these forces. And they lost - big time. Their entire credibility as somehow representing a genuine nationalist resistance has been scotched. If the election had happened earlier - say a year sooner - it might not have registered the same impact, because the insurgency would not have been so strong or so defined...