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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"We are more nationalistic than you think."

And events on Sunday's historic first Iraqi elections seem to have proved this to be true.

Austin Bay:
I spent the summer of 2004 on military duty in Iraq, and the January elections were a constant subject of discussion. Iraqis told me the election was their "big chance," the opportunity to escape the legacy of dictatorship. One Shia I met in Baghdad told me to beware of "your American view of us." He insisted that "you divide us in ways we do not divide ourselves."

He attacked the "American" view that Iraq's Shia, Sunni and Kurd would inevitably clash along ethnic and religious lines. "We are more nationalistic than you think," he warned me. "You will see that in the election."

Another Iraqi (a well-heeled Sunni) told me he agreed with that assessment.
I'll admit that my understanding of the history of Iraq put me in the tribal-factions-will-hinder-democracy camp, but I'm delighted to to be proved wrong.

The new Iraqi National Assembly will be a squabbling, ragtag forum charged with hammering out a constitution while terrorists kill in the streets. But the Assembly has several million purple fingers supporting it.

The transition from authoritarian whim to the democratic rule of law will require a score of Januarys -- but these are beginnings with strength and promise.
(h/t Instapundit)

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