Iraqis Embrace Democracy With a Passion

Citizens of one of the world’s newest democracies go to the polls Saturday to elect representatives to the Provincial Councils. It’s the third nationwide election in Iraq, and the first since 2005.

But the Washington Post reports the atmosphere now is nothing like “the 2005 vote, when violence and its threat lurked menacingly over the process. Neither candidates’ names nor their pictures were published, for fear they might be assassinated.”

Plenty of candidates are willing to show their faces now. Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger, runs some of the numbers:

– Candidates up for election Iraq-wide: 14,428…

– Number of seats these +14k are fighting to nab for themselves: 440 (that’s 32.7 candidates per seat!)

– Candidates for Baghdad Council: 2371

– Number of seats on Baghdad’s Council: 57 (41.6 per wannabe ‘council member’ per seat.. there will be tears.. a lot of tears)….

– Number of FOREIGN journalists registered with Iraqi Electoral Commission to cover elections: 358

– Number of IRAQI journalists registered with Iraqi Electoral Commission to cover elections: 1629 (who knew we had that many journalists!)

It’s not perfect. There are concerns about fraud and vote-buying, and only 14 of the country’s 18 provinces are taking part — the Kurdish provinces are not participating. And while the violence has greatly diminished, it is by no means over.

But Iraqis are determined to make their voices heard. It may be contagious — the country’s neighbors should be on notice.

(Photo: Salam Pax)

You (Could Have) Read It Here First

Long-time readers (hi Sweetie!) know how much I admire Charles Krauthammer’s writing. I’ve said that when I read his columns, I often wish I had written them first. Well, now that fantasy has partly come true.

Krauthammer’s column today covers some of the same ground as my post Wednesday on Obama’s mixed signals to the Muslim world. (No, I am not so delusional as to think he got the idea from my blog, which weighs in at 213,974th in Technorati’s blog rankings. I’m just tickled that we’re on the same wavelength.)

We both reacted to Obama’s statement that he wants to return to “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago” by noting that the Iran Hostage Crisis began 30 years ago. Despite Obama’s implication that his predecessor’s administration was hostile to Muslims, we both noted that Bush prominently reached out to Muslims six days after 9/11.

Here’s an additional Krauthammer point that I wish I had made:

In these most recent 20 years — the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world — America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved — and resulted in — the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Great column, Chuck! I mean Charlie. I mean… Mr. Krauthammer.

(Photo: Univ. of North Carolina)