James Forsyth James Forsyth

Iraq votes

Here’s the lede of The New York Times’ story on today’s Iraqi provincial elections:

“Iraqis voted on Saturday for local representatives, on an almost violence-free election day aimed at creating provincial councils that more closely represent Iraq’s ethnic, sectarian and tribal balance. By nightfall, there were no confirmed deaths, and children played soccer on closed-off streets in a generally joyous atmosphere.”

To be sure, there seem to have been problems with voter registration which might have reduced turnout. But 14,400 candidates running for 440 seats and the peaceful nature of these polls is testament to the progress that has been made in Iraq since the surge and the change in US tactics. Success in Iraq, a relatively stable democratic state with secure borders, is within reach. It would be tragic if this chance was to be lost because the Obama administration insists on trying to pull down US forces too fast.

PS The Economist has a great piece on the challenges facing the British military in its current issue. This sentence neatly captures the problems with Britain’s Iraq strategy: 

“If Tony Blair had misread the problems of occupying Iraq, his successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, misread America’s determination to put them right.”

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