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|Voting For Freedom||
Iraq's historic elections last weekend have brought a new dawn of hope and freedom in one of the world's darkest, most oppressive regions.
"In great numbers, and under great risk, Iraqis have shown their commitment to democracy," President Bush said shortly after the polls closed. "By participating in free elections, the Iraqi people have firmly rejected the anti-democratic ideology of the terrorists. They have refused to be intimidated by thugs and assassins, and they have demonstrated the kind of courage that is always the foundation of self-government."
Voters turned out in astonishing numbers -- as high as 72% in some reports -- despite direct death threats from the terrorists. "We will go to the ballot boxes even if we have to crawl," groups of Iraqis chanted. Despite a handful of suicide bombers, including one child with Down's Syndrome who was suited in bombs and sent to his death by the devils who oppose the US-led the democratization, the violence was considerably less than expected. Our military and Middle East experts predicted that 30 to 40 election sites would be attacked, but only nine were hit -- none of them actually inside the polling station.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the success of the first modern democratic elections in Iraq delivered a real blow to the terrorists' campaign of violence and intimidation.
The leader of France, the most obstinate barrier to Bush's initiatives, admitted, "These elections mark an important step in the political reconstruction of Iraq."
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently warned that "elections could not be fair under a U.S.-led occupation," called last weekend's events a "positive event" and a "step in the right direction."
It seems that the significance of these elections were seen everywhere except the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Senator Ted Kennedy released a statement saying, "...while the elections are a step forward, they are not a cure for the growing violence and resentment of the perception of an American occupation." He insists that the United States pull out of Iraq in order to "demonstrate to the Iraqi people that we have no long-term designs on their country," as if allowing the first free and legitimate elections in generations is not demonstration enough!
The state's other Senator, apparently still chafing from his own recent electoral failure, said that "no one in the United States should try to over-hype this election." Perhaps we should leave the dancing in the streets to the free citizens of Iraq, but to downplay the significance of this historic event merely smacks of partisan bitterness.
"It's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Kerry continued. Perhaps Mr. Kerry does not realize that, according to the Massachusetts Voter Education Network, less than 65% of his own state's voters turned out to vote in 2004.
But his negativism plunged its deepest when he resolutely stated, "I believe the world is less safe today than it was two and a half years ago."
Yet the Washington Post reported two days afterward that the success of the elections "appeared to puzzle many Arab governments that had been predicting through state-run news media an even bloodier election day." If Islamic states can see that violence is on the decline, why can't some politicians and left-wing liberals?
Let there be no mistake about it. The American-led coalition in Iraq is building a brighter future for everyone. The soldiers, as well as ordinary citizens of Iraq, are making great sacrifices, and they are not in vain. Freedom is on the rise.
For our own security, and the security of the rest of the world, we must continue to work in Iraq and other parts of the world where the seeds of liberty struggle to bloom.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower poignantly said, "We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom." In Iraq, we are beginning to see that freedom can bring a climate of peace.