Wednesday, February 2

"HOUSTON CHRONICLE" GETS IT RIGHT

Having read the grudging acknowledgments from the left-of-Left's blessed trinity -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times -- that there was some import to the huge turnout of Iaqi voters in last Sunday's elections and that such bravery and national pride may -- just may (at least could) -- portend a legitimately democratic, freedom-loving country in the Arab world, I particularly enjoyed this more sanguine and objectively-written editorial in today's Houston Chronicle.

From it, I quote these excerpts:

The success of the Iraqi elections this past Sunday made forming democracy in the country seem less like the miracle so many people thought it would require. It feels like there actually is a process at work here: First, overthrow the old repressive dictator, contain the insurgency to a manageable simmer, then hold elections. Now, the U.S.-led coalition troops need only continue to maintain civil order while newly elected Iraqi National Assembly members form a government and while Iraqi military and police forces train to take over the coalition's role.

Exit strategy is being debated in earnest in Washington this week. The Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, is calling for President Bush to lay out a withdrawal plan in his State of the Union address tonight. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., demanded Bush set a firm deadline. White House officials say it is still too soon to talk concretely about leaving Iraq. The latter sentiment seems the correct one, as only a few days have passed since polling closed on an election that many reasonable people assumed couldn't be pulled off with any degree of dignity or legitimacy.

The euphoria of the elections already is beginning to wane, tempered by incidents that demonstrate how much more difficult work remains. On Monday, U.S. guards shot dead four inmates at Camp Bucca detention center, where more than 5,000 suspected insurgents are being held, in order to quell a riot. Tuesday, al-Yawer announced that tens of thousands of people might have been prevented from voting because some polling places ran out of ballots. Fighting has been reported in some insurgent areas.

That noted, the success of Iraq's first free and fair elections in 50 years marks the beginning of a journey toward a free society. That is what Iraq's long-oppressed people so clearly demonstrated they want fervently enough to have risked their very lives.