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Friday, October 14, 2005

THAILAND GETS IT

Well what do you know. Maybe us A'murkins aren't just dumb-ass warmongers after all. It seems that the Bangkok Post, at least, sees some good in Iraq these days.

As controversial as the Iraq war has become around the world, it is easy to lose sight of the extraordinarily good news that has emerged from that country and battleground. The first was the downfall of one of the world's most heinous dictatorships. Saddam Hussein killed his people, bullied his small neighbours and threatened his large ones. The other is the widespread and enthusiastic way in which Iraqis have grasped democratic choice. This weekend, they will once again go to the polls to make the decisions that will decide their country's fate. When Iraqis vote _ or abstain _ tomorrow on a constitution hammered out in a remarkably short time, they will be doing something none of their Arab neighbours do. Several major Sunni organisations still were debating this week whether to vote or boycott. By contrast, about 5,000 members of major Islamist student groups in Egypt held protests to demand a free vote, on anything. The arguments and debates over the proposed Iraq constitution during the past several weeks have been passionate, opinionated and peaceful.

[ ... ]

Here, however, is the good part: If Iraq of the future devolves into civil conflict, tomorrow's election makes it more likely that the battles will be on the political stumps, and not in the streets. In any case, the citizens of every country have the right to set the course of their nation, vote for their leaders and demand daily accountability from the representatives elected. A vote for the new constitution, a vote against it or a reasoned, thinking decision not to vote _ all of these move forward both democracy and freedom in Iraq.It is remarkable that a country so violently torn by daily bombs and battles can debate, write and then vote on a national constitution. Last May, a nationwide poll in Iraq determined that 59% of Iraqis believed the country was better off than before the US invasion, and 76% said they and their families were personally better off. There had been predictions that the US invasion would galvanise Muslims against the rest of the world, but the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported last July that Muslim public opinion was increasingly against the Islamists. Security will be tight in Iraq, and presumably violence will continue, as it did during the parliamentary elections last January. Everyone should wish the Iraqis well in their decision to take another brave step towards democracy.

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