Iraq goes to the polls
Liberty Century. That's what President Bush called it in one of his speeches before the recent American elections. He hasn't repeated that phrase again, but I think it's apt. We seem to be experiencing the year of the momentous election. We can go back and start with the inauspicious elections in Spain, when a country, rocked by a terrorist train bombing, took out its collective wrath not on the terrorists who were responsible, but against the government which the public blamed for inciting the terrorist's anger. We looked at this and hoped that this would not be the first of a series of victories for terror through the ballot box that would spread throughout the developed world.
But then came the Australian elections, and contrary to all polls, prognostications and pontifications, Aussies overwhelmingly gave Prime Minister Howard a ringing endorsement of his free market, low tax, and vigorous anti-terror campaign. Way to go, maties!!
This was a harbinger of good things to come in our own elections, as George Bush defeated John Kerry, whose party had laid out a strategy of being anti-war-on-terror.
Then, barely had we overcome the tensions of our own elections, than the unexpected happened in Ukraine. As we've been following on the news and in these pages, Ukraine's runoff election was declared an unmitigated fraud and a revote was ordered.
President Yushchenko has since come to power and taken office in the first true democratic election in that country, one that points the way at last to a path from simple independence to true democracy.
And today we have experienced the Iraqi elections. And what a beautiful day it is once again for freedom and democracy. When I saw the joy and excitement expressed by the Iraqis who voted today, and beheld their glowing faces, I was reminded of the scenes I witnessed just a few days ago in Kyiv.
Democracy and freedom affect people in the same way throughout the world. President Bush is correct. Freedom and liberty are the only hope for the world's peace.
Here's a moving account of an
eyewitness to today's election in Iraq from Iraq the Model blog:
We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear. We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.
I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!
Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.
The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.
I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.
How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.
Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.