Monday, October 17, 2005


The Iraqi Referendum Is A Resounding Success

I just wanted to see that headline. I doubt very much that we'll see it in print from any of the major newspapers.

Please note: I don't think the referendum was a success because it passed, although I'm certainly pleased with that result. Rather, the vote was successful in all the ways the January election was successful -- high participation, high optimism among Iraqis as to the results, almost violence-free voting -- and, in fact, went as well or better than the January election in all those cases.

Then, as now, I'm less concerned with the specific result than I am with the process. Iraqis are learning what democracy is, and they're learning by doing. Last time, hardly any Sunni Arabs participated; this time there was high Sunni participation. Last time, there was heavy American security at the polls; this time, there was heavy Iraqi security at the polls. All this is progress, and it's all welcome.

The Iraqis have many hurdles still in front of them. But they've come a lot farther, a lot faster, than we had reason to expect. Some of the credit for that goes to the American and Allied forces, clearing the way and lending a helping hand. But the bulk of the credit must go to the Iraqi people themselves.

All we could do was to give them the opportunity, and to hold our breath. Would they take it? And they have, overwhelmingly.

Commentary on the referendum is, of course, all over the blogosphere. I enjoyed reading Smash, Instapundit, and Murdoc, among others... but nobody tops Mohammed at Iraq: The Model.

Bravo, Iraq! Bravo.

UPDATE: Now multiple sources are claiming that the referendum results are suspect. That's troubling; the Iraqis need to develop confidence in the system. (On the other hand, they also need to understand that democracy is messy, complicated, and expensive. Dictatorships are cheap.)

On the other hand, from what I've read, the alleged vote-count irregularities (higher-than-expected 'yes' votes exceeding 95% in some provinces; one province with more votes than residents) are not such as to affect the outcome of the referendum. Of course, that, too, could be incorrect; we'll see.

Let the process work, people. If Iraq is to be a lasting, thriving democracy, they'll eventually have to face problems like this on their own. Let them deal with it.


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