February 4, 2009

Iraq's winning vote

If Iraq’s first postwar election four years ago was mostly “a procedural victory,” last weekend’s vote was a “political triumph.” So says today’s Washington Post.

Though results are still preliminary, they show that voters strongly rewarded Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his forceful action against extremist militias and his secular nationalist agenda -- and punished religious parties perceived as too sectarian or too close to Iran. The nonsectarian alliance of former prime minister Ayad Allawi also appears to have done well, and nationalist Sunnis gained influence in areas where they had lacked it because of previous election boycotts. In short, Iraq appears to have taken a step toward becoming the moderate Arab democracy that the Bush administration long hoped for.

As we say in Italy, “Time is a gentleman,” or “Truth is the daughter of time,” as an old English proverb goes. But

[o]ddly, the biggest beneficiary of the election other than Mr. Maliki may be President Obama, who has been a skeptic both of progress in Iraq and the value of elections in unstable states.

That’s how the world goes …