[February 7, 2022] This is what I wrote to my son the day after Iraqi’s first democratic election: “It appears that the Iraqi elections were a complete success by any measure.” The Iraqis defied the terrorists; women, in particular, voted overwhelmingly. The elections were more than a move toward democracy but a move toward a civilized, modern society.
It was a Monday, January 31, 2005. The day we looked back on the election and we knew it would go down in history as something that was good.
Like us, citizens of Iraq wanted a family, a respectable job, and a place to worship as they so choose. The election was a strong rejection of totalitarianism and barbarianism. Iraqi citizens no longer would tolerate despotism or terrorism; that is what they wanted from their politicians.
What I found most ironic was that many in Western democracies remained pitifully against real democracy in Iraq.
In Kirkuk, Baghdad, Najar, and many small towns, the voting went exceptionally well. There were terror attacks, mostly suicide bombers, who killed about 30 to 40 Iraqis, but citizens still voted. Many took their young children with them! I’m told that parents wanted their children to be part of something unique, something crucial for their future. This is the way they wanted it.
I spoke with several Iraqis that day, and they were happy to tell me about their pride in their fellow citizens and relief that the number voting was higher than expected.
Terrorists outright failed to stop the election. One of my favorite stories was about a dead suicide bomber who had died while lying in the street near a voting location. Those walking by spit on his body. True enough, the average Iraqi walking to their polling places knew that violence was not the answer.
Decent Iraqis had, indeed, won the day. Their future would be very difficult, and the electoral bliss would wear off soon.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).