The big days have kept coming and now we accept, perhaps expect, them. None of us have noted another election day in Iraq – it came and went. But this is important – how important we won’t know until the next election and the next and the next. But, well, the next can’t come until the first ones do.
And a poll worker takes fire and, wounded, remains at his post; before him, the voters continue to line up, voting with more heroism than we’ve had to muster in our easy lives. The appropriate attitude should not be smug condescension but admiration for such people. (And for a policy that put that man in that polling place and the voters stretched before him.) Lex may be right–or not. Miers may prove good or bad. But Bush deserves credit for the imagination to see that this day would come in Iraq. He is not always right but clearly he doesn’t lack vision.
As I’m driving around, I hear Martha Raddatz on NPR report that the coalition expected more violence. She says they are having to go back and examine the intelligence – they must have gotten it wrong. (Frankly, I’m listening to her and wonder – is this the weirdest spin that could be put on the day?) Of course, would that they were more mistaken and none of our men had died today. Elections without American forces looking for suicide bombers will be better yet.
And we hope for the day when American intelligence will not consider it their problem, a day without Al Quaeda boasts, as unfulfilled as they appear to be:
Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and infused with foreign fighters, distributed leaflets in the west pledging punishment for all who voted Saturday. “We have warned; we shall not be blamed,” one leaflet read.
But six insurgent groups led by Iraqis countered with a call for restraint by their foreign allies. In one of the first signs that some Iraqi insurgents were eschewing violence for politics, Muhammad’s Army, the Mujaheddin Army and other organizations based in Ramadi said in a statement that Zarqawi’s group “should not get involved in minor fights that only serve the occupation.”
Not surprisingly, Belmont Club has Wretchard’s usual thoughtful take, in “The End of the Beginning”:
Just as the ouster of Saddam by OIF touched off a wave of changes in Libya, Lebanon and the entire region, the impending defeat of the insurgency will paradoxically enhance the ability of diplomacy to address many of the remaining issues. Saddam’s defeat confirmed what many military analysts knew from Desert Storm, that it was impossible for any conventional army to stand up against US forces. And that modified the behavior of many rogue states. Yet there remained the hope that the terrorist model of warfare, forged in Algeria and refined against Israel in Lebanon, would bring America to a halt: that rogue regimes acting discreetly could operate within that strategic shadow. Now, for the first time since Algeria, a terrorist force of the highest quality, supported by contributions from oil-rich countries, in the heart of the Arab world, with sanctuary in a friendly regime across the border and eulogized as “freedom fighters” by dozens of major international publications is on the verge of total and ignominious defeat. There are no more strategic shadows.
And he concludes with a warning about hubris, one that others may have mentioned before but is becoming more likely to be a temptation:
Victory is arguably the most perilous moment for any great power. In that instant it can be goaded into the destructive path to hubris, or if it is wise, go on to attain real greatness. The fruits of freedom throughout the region may not always be congenial, as the example of the voters in Fallujah showed in microcosm. But that is what the mission set out to attain all the same: Operation Iraqi Freedom.