Once again, one of the most important elections in U.S. history is about to take place. This time in January.
The Jan. 30 election will be a measuring stick by which the U.S.-led coalition's invasion and rehabilitation of Iraq may always be judged.
Unfortunately, the recent successful elections in Afghanistan went largely unheralded. But should that former chaotic haven for terrorists hold together its infant democracy, historians will look back on the liberation of Afghanistan as a milestone in modern history.
In contrast, with all the world's attention and angst focused on Iraq, it's a good bet the success or failure of that country's elections will be aptly appreciated, both now and in the future.
Moreover, considering Iraq's continued battle with terrorists and the mindless intolerance of Sunni Muslim clerics who are urging a boycott of the vote a successful election in Iraq would be an even greater achievement for posterity.
What an incredible accomplishment that would be for U.S. troops to have paved the way for the democratization of two key terror-supporting countries in the most active terrorist nest in the world. The benefit to mankind could not be understated.
Ironically, those who stand to benefit the most Arabs and Muslims are the ones who have opposed it the loudest, if you leave out left-wing U.S. filmmakers.
On the other hand, if the Iraqi elections are viewed as a failure, skeptics and historians would likely see that as an indictment of the invasion itself.
That wouldn't be terribly fair or accurate. In truth, the coalition's toppling of the mass-murdering, terrorist-supporting, weapons-of-mass-destruction-loving Saddam Hussein is a victory of its own; nothing need follow it to justify it.
Perception, however, will require that, for the Iraq invasion to be adjudged a success, the movement toward democracy must be a success too.
In this way, President George W. Bush has as much or more to gain from the Jan. 30 election as he did from the one on Nov. 2. Certainly the election here gave him a second term, but the election in Iraq will be key to viewing his first term in a positive light and in securing for himself a laudable historical legacy.
Expect a violent march forward. Iraqis will die for their freedom.
Then again, so have Americans.
The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)
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