Iraqi elections

Monday, December 20, 2004

Columbia Daily Tribune

To be sure, anti-American warriors in Iraq are doing an effective job of shaking our resolve about the political future of the country, in particular raising doubts about whether elections should go forward as scheduled in late January.

Most troublesome is the threat of a large Iraqi tribal minority to boycott the voting. If Sunnis effectively stay home, perhaps 25 or 30 percent of potential voters might not be involved. Critics say an election without participation from such a significant group won't be credible.

Who says? Just because some people decide not to vote in an election does not discredit the election; it discredits those who choose to stay home. If it were otherwise, many an American election would be invalid. ...

Plenty of smart observers believe democracy has no chance in Iraq. ... Maybe they are right, but one of George W. Bush's encouraging traits is his unflagging determination that democracy can gain a foothold in that dangerous area. Most Americans stick with his war effort mainly to give that premise a chance.

If it works, it will be as significant as the end of communism as an imminent threat to freedom, maybe more so. If American efforts in Iraq can tilt the level, gradually starting a trend, it will have been a campaign larger than its own life. At least, that's the grand hope, one we should not abandon because the road is difficult _ not yet.

That's the large way of saying the next important step must be taken. The elections must be held.

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