Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Dog That Didn't Bark

So, not much has been made in the press of this, but there were 2 important elections recently.

In one, Australia's PM Howard was re-elected. When it seemed his challenger had a chance, the media was gearing up to call the election a referendum on Australia's support of the U.S. effort in Iraq. And by extension, a prelude to what would happen to Bush.

But when Howard won, did they say it was vindication for the Iraq policy of Australia? Or a good sign for Bush?

Of course not.

The other election story that isn't getting nearly the attention it deserves is the historic first election in Afghanistan.

And the proverbial "dog that didn't bark" was the Taliban who were supposed to disrupt the elections with countrywide attacks.

Instead, they were hardly anywhere to be seen.



The Taliban were greatly discredited and shown to be weak.

Liberty is taking hold in Afghanistan. It is entirely unprecedented, and the World was Changed in ways that will reverberate for decades to come, and that we cannot yet know.

The significance can hardly be overstated.

And the United States in general, and Bush in particular, will get no credit.

A roundup can be found here.

Some excerpts:
" 'Finally the day has arrived. I am so happy, it's like a dream. I feel that we are finally human,' said Zahooba, a toothless old woman of 65 who walked half an hour on shaky legs to the polling station to cast her vote for President Hamid Karzai... Rahgul, a 45-year-old matriarch came with 11 women from her family to cast her vote for Hamid Karzai. 'Our father said we should come early and vote. We are so happy. I can't believe today is the election,' she said adding that the men in her family were also voting for Karzai. She was not worried about attacks or explosions. 'The Taliban warned us but we are not scared. We are Afghans,' she added...

"[V]oters were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, calling polling day the happiest day of their lives and saying that they hoped it would usher in big changes. 'Today we can vote. We change the future of our country and our lives. After decades of war I know that now things will change,' said 25-year-old Abdul Haq."

"At a polling station in Kabul, Gul Sum, a 60-year-old ethnic Hazara housewife wearing a black veil, showed off a thumb stained with the ink from special pens shipped in from India... Sum said the vote would help glue the country back together after more than two decades of violence and poisonous ethnic division. She prayed that militants would not make good on their threat to attack the process. 'In the line waiting with me, there were women from all the different groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara,' Sum said. 'For the first time, women are having a say in the future of Afghanistan. We are fed up with war'."

"I visited three polling places in Kabul today and saw Afghan men and women lining up to exercise, for the first time in this nation's tortured history, the freedom to select their leader.

"I watched as men and women, who been warned by the violent remnants of a defeated oppressor that exercising their freedom to vote would result in death, defiantly come to polling places to cast their votes.

"I saw women, who had been not allowed out of their own homes under the old regime, walk freely into the voting booths and cast their ballot for their choice for President.

I saw today what freedom looks like."

"Afghans display an infectious enthusiasm about the poll... The burly nomad with a henna beard and a fierce scowl grips the pen between his thick fingers. Turgul cannot read the election material around him, but is determined to practice the first vote of his life. The turbaned tribesman drags the pen across a scrap of paper. 'Just like that,' he says uncertainly, holding aloft the squiggle that will mark his choice...
They said Afghanistan was a "quagmire" in the second week of the campaign. The Afghan Winter would be our defeat. We couldn't bomb in Ramadan. The countryside will never be controllable. Etc, etc.

Naysing the whole way.

And 3 years later, we have "massive" voter turnout.

In Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most backward spots on Earth.

And these same people are now saying, after 18 months, that Iraq is a "quagmire". The Iraqi Summer will be our defeat. Democracy will never take hold. Etc, etc.

So tell me, how is it country like Iraq, which is far, far, richer than AFghanistan, and with an (at least nominally) educated middle class, will find democracy impossible to implement, whereas the Afghanis can?

It's just defeatism, born of a derangement so severe that they'd rather see the spread of Liberty to tens of millions of people fail, than to support the effort if it means giving credit or recognition of success to Bush.

The World is Changing.

If you want more of this kind of change, vote Bush; if you want it to stop in its tracks, and send a signal that we don't have the fortitude to see this tough process through, and let up othe pressure on the tyrants, then go ahead, vote for Kerry.


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