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A Tipping Point in Iraq?

There is a growing number of stories that seem to all support the same conclusion... Good things are happing in Iraq since the election. Very good thing indeed...

Suddenly, It's 'America Who?'

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Through 22 months of occupation nd war here, the word "America" was usually the first word to pass through the lips of an Iraqi with a gripe.

Why can't the Americans produce enough electricity? Why can't the Americans guarantee security? Why can't the Americans find my stolen car?

Last week, as the euphoria of nationwide elections washed over this country, a remarkable thing happened: Iraqis, by and large, stopped talking about the Americans.

With the ballots still being counted here, the Iraqi candidates retired to the back rooms to cut political deals, leaving the Americans, for the first time, standing outside. In Baghdad's tea shops and on its street corners, the talk turned to which of those candidates might form the new government, to their schemes and stratagems, and to Iraqi problems and Iraqi solutions.

And for the United States, the assessments turned unfamiliarly measured.

"We have no electricity here, no water and there's no gasoline in the pumps," said Salim Mohammed Ali, a tire repairman who voted in last Sunday's election. "Who do I blame? The Iraqi government, of course. They can't do anything."

Asked about the American military presence here, Mr. Ali chose his words carefully.

"I think the Americans should stay here until our security forces are able to do the jobs themselves," Mr. Ali said, echoing virtually every senior American officer in Iraq. "We Iraqis have our own government now, and we can invite the Americans to stay."

The Iraqi focus on its own democracy, and the new view of the United States, surfaced in dozens of interviews with Iraqis since last Sunday's election.

This really is no surprise; though it would have been nicer to seen immediately after the fall of Baghdad. It was going to happen sooner or later. I guess we can't blame the Iraqis for not "getting it" at first...

Since April 9, 2003, when Saddam Hussein's rule crumbled, Iraqis have viewed themselves more or less as American subjects. American officials ran their government, American soldiers fought their war, American money paid to rebuild Iraq.

Indeed, the American project to implant democracy in Iraq often seemed to be in danger of falling victim to the country's manifest political passivity, born of a quarter-century of torture centers, mass graves, free food and pennies-a-gallon gasoline. The more the Americans tried to nudge the Iraqis towards self-government, the more the Iraqis expected the Americans to do. ...

After June 28, when American suzerainty here formally ended, not many Iraqis bought the notion that the interim government of Ayad Allawi was anything other than a caretaker regime, hand-picked by the Americans and the United Nations.

After living a generation in a totalitarian dictatorship, it really should come as no surprise it took a while for the reality that they were on the road to freedom to sink in. It was a cultural thing. They didn't have the benefit of growing up in a land where the culture places as high a value on freedom as we do.

An analogy could be made to raising a child... When a child is young, they can't comprehend the ways of the adult. -- At some point, the child matures and realizes it was for their own good and is grateful to the parent for all the work. Having no "baseline of freedom" it just took the Iraqis a while to trust our intentions and to have faith in their own abilities of self-governance.

What surprised me is how few Democrats got it... They kept (keep) saying we were only there to occupy Iraq... And they have no excuse like the Iraqis, they knew better!

All that seemed to change last Sunday, when millions of Iraqis streamed to the polls. Few if any Iraqis had ever voted in anything approaching a free election, yet most seemed to know exactly what the exercise was about: selecting their own representatives to lead their own country.

It appears the Iraqis now have a better understanding of this "freedom thing" than many in the American left. Amusing, but not altogether surprising.

Comments (8)

One of the things that stru... (Below threshold)

One of the things that struck me about a recent book about the Cabanatuan POW raid in WWII was how many of the rescuers mentioned that most captives didn't want to leave, and shrunk in fear from their countrymen when they showed up. Many were carried or roughly expelled while far fewer refused help or asked for a weapon. There's nothing unreasonable about newly freed prisoners taking a while to get their bearings, and imagine what decades of such a situation does to one's ability to see the world clearly and act decisively. We should feel for Iraqis who are reluctant to step up in a way that we Americans think we take for granted, especially since in reality, when things get nasty just about everyone lays low and few of us do what we think or say we would, even here in the land of the free. Iraq is doing pretty well, all things considered.

Just think, soon they too w... (Below threshold)

Just think, soon they too will have Senators who drive off bridges while drunk and belong to racist terrorists groups!

I think Uncle Mikey has it ... (Below threshold)

I think Uncle Mikey has it right. A bit of time is needed to believe the nightmare of Saddam is really over and those Americans mean what they've been saying about freedom of choice and speech.

That so many Iraqis voted last week is a measure of how much they've come to believe. The story about villagers fighting back when the terroists came backt o punish them for voting is more evidence they're making the trasnistion from passive to active with their own futures. I'd expect it to gather steam in the months to come.

No guesses on when the Lefties might get up to speed on this whlole Iraq democracy thing, though.

The democrats knew b... (Below threshold)

The democrats knew better. They simply spout a line they knew would create problems for President Bush, the Administration and the military.

The democrats are much like the MSM. Why tell the truth when a LIE will get you the impression you wish to project?

You know you are near the t... (Below threshold)
Carrick Talmadge:

You know you are near the tipping point when you hear a generally favorable story about Iraq on NPR, like I did today. This one contained the quote from a Shi'ite leader that the Sunni'\s who had boycotted the election now realized that they had "committed a horrible blunder". I was pretty sure I could hear the reporter's teeth grinding in the background. These are not good times to be "reality based" (like the way hallucinations are "reality based").

I suppose now would be an i... (Below threshold)

I suppose now would be an impolitic time to remind the group that 1) the Bush administration resisted the idea of Iraqi elections until they were forced for pragmatic reasons to embrace reality, and 2) the results of the election are shaping up to be that America will have successfully replaced a secular (*pseudo*-Islamic) Ba'athist dictator with an undemocratic Shi'ite oligarchy that is now closely aligned with Iran and is clearly signaling that it intends to implement the Sharia as civil law in Iraq.

Tell me again why I'm supposed to be all excited about yet another Sharia state in the middle of the largest known petroleum reserves in the world.

Face it, warfloggers— your guys refused to prepare for the fallout from the fall of the Hussein regime, and they were incapable of setting the proper conditions in April 2003—almost two fscking years ago— to allow for a real transfer of power to a new Iraqi government in a timely way. To do that would have required telling the truth about what it would cost and what were the risks— which would have made the whole thing politically impossible at the time.

Now your guys are trying desperately to spin the elections as if they were never something they were actively resisting, and that the take-it-to-the-bank outcome will be a new Jeffersonian secular democracy on the Euphrates. Hooray!

And you people here are lapping it up this poisonous bogosity like a dog drinking anti-freeze.

I'll drink to that s9. Rep... (Below threshold)

I'll drink to that s9. Republicans will always talk about lies when even their own opinion is just that. They're so easy to herd in the same direction. All the upity ups in the system just have to say, hey, there was an election in Iraq, and the little peon republicans see peace and freedom instinctively because that is how they have been effectively programmed. It never even passes most of their minds to try to think critically. Sorry to knock on all you dumb repugs, but only time will tell if your views of Iraq are founded. And, until then, you narcisitic jerks need to stop calling others lyers for their oppinions. I would love a free Iraq as well, but nobody knows just yet what happens from here.

Typical talk from lefties. ... (Below threshold)

Typical talk from lefties. emotionally charged arguments containing zero facts with a liberal sprinkling of namecalling. Can someone tell me why the libs have more respect for terrorists then their fellow countrymen. While I'm considered a narcisitic jerk and a warflogging dog, the terrorsists are just called "insurgents"






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