It’s now just a matter of hours until the polls open in Iraq. Already during the past week there has been enormous, joyous and enthusiastic turnout among ex-patriot Iraqis all over the world. Hundreds of thousands turned out to vote in the first free Iraqi election in half a century. Voting went smoothely almost everywhere, except for one incident in Australia where Islamic extremists turned out to protest the election and were attacked by offended Iraqi voters. For a great set of photos of celbratory voters check out the photo montrage at The Washington Post.
Voting in Iraq itself obviously won’t be as trouble free as it has been for those living outside the troubled country. A free election is the greatest possible threat to the would-be tyrants and fundamentalist extremists who want to take over the country through violence. Iraqi Security forces and the Coalition Military are taking every possible security measure to protect the polling places to the extent of deploying almost 300,000 troops and police, barricading streets and creating protected waiting areas outside of the polls. This may make voting somewhat intimidating and inconvenient, but safety is the first priority.
In the more stable regions of the country such as the Kurdish areas in the north and the large city of Basra in the south little violence is expected. Voter turnout will be large and enthusiastic and no one is going to tolerate attempts to disrupt the election. Local militias are expected to augment police forces and help escort voters to the polls. A turnout of 80% or higher is a reasonable expectation.
In the middle part of the country, in the ‘Sunni Triangle’ and Baghdad, things are much more tense. This is where the most troops are concentrated and the most extreme measures are being taken to protect voters. Voters in Baghdad will have to reach the polls on foot because barricades set up to prevent attacks on the polls and car-bombs also block peaceful traffic. Once they get close to polling locations they will be surrounded by protective barricades and lots and lots of troops which will hopefully be sufficient to deter violence. Car bombing polling locations once the election has started will be nearly impossible and the largest danger is likely to be from relatively innacurate rocket attacks. or attacks on groups of voters before they get to the polls.
The remarkable thing about this election is that despite the dangers Iraqis even in the most violent areas seem determined to turn out and vote. Polls last week showed that at least 64% of the Iraqis in Baghdad planned to vote and many commented that they considered voting to be worth the risk of death, looking on death while voting as being as much of a martyr’s death as religious extremists consider a death during an act of terror. Ordinary Iraqis who don’t want to fight or carry guns or blow things up see this election as the surest way to strike back against the forces of terror which have harrowed their country. For them every vote cast, especially votes by women, is as good as bullet in the heart of reactionary terrorism. This is the way for peaceful people to take back their country with a legitimate government and a clear public mandate against extremism and violence.
Some are concerned that Sunnis may choose not to vote. How much of an issue htis is remains to be seen. Many Sunnis are participating in non-religious parties and will vote for those affiliations, and those who actually do choose to boycott the election because of religious loyalties are actually effectively casting a virtual vote. They are choosing not to be counted and not to be represented. Buy opting out of the electoral process they are in effect voting for continued terrorism and civil war. As a minority which takes that stand they can expect to reap the rewards of such an unacceptable political position, but that is the choice they made.
The disturbing news is that there are those who would rather see Iraq plunged into another 50 years of darkness and oppression than win freedom with the support of the United States. They would rather side with fundamentalist theocrats, murdering terrorists and the remnants of Iraq’s old tyrranical regime regardless of the harm it does to the people of Iraq. For them anything is better than a victory for America and Freedom. These hate-filled narcissists like the sneering socialists at The Guardian and the radical provocateurs at Al Jezeera will never accept the outcome of the election no matter how well it goes. Every Sunni who chooses to endorse terrorism instead of voting will have been ‘disenfranchised’ in their eyes, and every voter who stays away from the polls out of fear of violence will be painted as ‘boycotting’ the election.
Once the election ends they will step up their campaign of lies. The claims will begin that voters chose candidates with American guns at their heads – as if any American officer would issue such an order or any American soldier would follow it. It will be like the claims of voting fraud in Ohio but on a higher level of magnitude and with just as little substance. Because of the remoteness and the security issues in this election they can make up any claims they like to try to taint the results, and the greater the turnout and more successful the election the more outrageous their deceptions will be. Since truth has no meaning to them and their humanitarian posture is a sham to cover their Anti-American agenda, they will set no limits and stop at nothing to spread their ‘Big Lie’.
The saddest thing is that there are otherwise sensible people who will believe them. They’ve laid the groundwork for their deceit well over the past few years and found an audience around the world gullible enough and paranoid enough to listen to whatever they tell them. They’ve convinced these dupes that America is the Great Satan and that no matter how good our intentions or how noble our actions, whatever we do must be part of some ill-defined sinister plot to dominate the world. They have nurtured their audience on hate and jealousy and resentment so that they too believe that no price is too great for innocent people in Iraq to pay if it brings down the evil American Empire.
Let us hope and pray that the election goes well tomorrow and that Iraq moves forward with a new government onto firmer and firmer ground. Every vote cast is a victory for truth and freedom and every success of the new government is a nail in the coffin of the unholy alliance of terrorism, religious extremism and international socialism. When the lies begin we should all be prepared to counter them with facts. When they start spinning their web of deception we will cut through it with the sword of truth. Expose the hatemongers for what they really are and eventually they will lose their sway over those they have duped and deceived. Their power will fade and the flowers of evil which they have planted will wither on the vine.
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