Election will be defeat for insurgents
The decision by Iraqi officials to hold national elections as scheduled on Jan. 30 could be the strongest offensive yet against the insurgents' war against a free, independent Iraq, and resolutely tells terrorists: You may kill and intimidate some of us, but you cannot and will not kill and intimidate all of us. Nothing you do will halt this country's course toward a freely elected government.
Thus, the decision by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq to go ahead with a national vote — even in areas of the country under siege from insurgent cutthroats — sets the stage for the ultimate battle between the forces of self-government and the disease of evil, hate and tyranny.
Yes, voting in the worst terror-infested regions may be nearly impossible, but that must not deter the majority of Iraqis from going to the polls to choose a legislative body to represent them and write a governing constitution.
Today, we see Iraq largely through a news media prism of death and dismemberment, roadside bombs, fire and rubble. What we do not see are the 122 political organizations or parties that have sprung up since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the movement toward full and free elections.
"We have so many parties, so many people wanting to participate, it is wonderful. I am happy," said Farid Ayar, a spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission.
So many parties vying for votes may look and sound chaotic, but it is really part of the natural process that is to be expected in a country's first taste of political freedom. "Many of the parties are expected to combine in loose coalitions as they seek to maximize their seats in a new national assembly," writes Betsy Pisik of The Washington Times (for full disclosure, it's also the newspaper I write for).
Even so, the array of political parties looks daunting, representing Shi'ite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians; secular parties who have religious or regional interests; parties headed by sheiks or clerics; parties whose platforms are about basic political yearnings like justice, democracy or equal rights.
Let's not sugarcoat what lies ahead in these elections. Candidates for office will be killed, voters will be threatened and no doubt murdered for taking part in this country's fledgling movement toward representative self-government. But no matter what the terrorists may do, they are not going to stop these elections from taking place. That much is certain.
The desire to be free, as President Bush is fond of saying, is a powerful force, more powerful than the barbarian minority that seeks to impose its will on the Iraqi people with bombs and beheadings. Thus, the voters and the candidates will be warriors in this battle, too.