Friday, December 16, 2005

A Pause For Perspective

I wanted to take a break from some of my more critical analysis to acknowledge and appreciate the rather significant political event that just took place in Iraq. Leaving aside questions of justification, cost/benefit analyses, overall historical impact and even the prospects for permanence and long term success, I simply want to offer my sincere appreciation of the courage and perseverence of the Iraqi people.

After all that the Iraqis have endured over the past centuries, for a moment on Thursday at least - however flawed and imperfect that moment may have been - they were able to feel the exhiliration at finally having a say in deciding the manner in which their country will be ruled. As an American, I am sure I take this right for granted (though I never skip votes), but for the Iraqi people at this time, the newness and boundless expectations are more potent forces than complacency, apathy and inattention. As I have hoped for at the occurence of other important political milestones in Iraq, I reiterate my wish to see this event create a momentum within the collective Iraqi consciousness that will encourage the healing of the rift in Iraqi society and bring leaders and groups closer to compromise, peace and unity and away from the destructive cycle of violence.

Only the hardest of hearts could ignore the pride and happiness on many Iraqi faces, and the relief felt at emerging from the Baath regime's mis-rule to what hopefully will be a brighter future. We shouldn't let our opposition to this war, or the knowledge of all the bad that has come along with it, to obscure this reality. It would help, of course, if war supporters would refrain from overly triumphalistic crowing or other dubious contentions about the significance of this one election which end up putting people on the defensive about what should otherwise be a unanimously welcomed event. Maybe both sides could give each other some breathing room.

All too often, the Iraqi people themselves are what we lose sight of in the scuffle over the policy issues, the discussions of costs, the prognostications, pollyannic spin, good news/bad news and associated argumentation. More than most perhaps, I have been very willing to express my fears, misgivings and doubts about the contours of the road that lies ahead - although I have always strived to be nothing more than objective. But maybe for a brief period, on this Friday in December, we can all just sit back and enjoy this window of optimism and promise - however fleeting it may turn out to be. We can resume our contentious conversation on Monday. There'll be plenty of time for that. In the meantime, I hope the Iraqi people were able to derive a sense of accomplishment and hope from this week's events. It's the very least they deserve.

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