Iraqis deserve expectation that they'll succeed

Feb. 5, 2005
Iraq's election Jan. 30 did more than testify to the manifest courage of a long-oppressed and still-beleaguered people.

Bob Tippee

Iraq's election Jan. 30 did more than testify to the manifest courage of a long-oppressed and still-beleaguered people. It also discredited smug observations from outside of Iraq that some people just aren't suited for self-governance.

That such pessimism came, at least before the election, from individuals in the US and other democratically governed countries is regrettable.

Democracy derives from a transcendent right of people�all people�to be free, which democratically governed people believe to be the natural condition of humanity.

The assertion by free people that certain other people can't govern themselves is, therefore, a severe condemnation. It's tantamount to saying that the humanity of those certain other peoples is somehow deficient. It amounts, in other words, to first-order bigotry.

Iraqis are suited for self-governance because they're people. That's all it takes. Because Iraqis are people they deserve to make their own choices, free of oppression and tyranny. Nothing about their being Iraqi, or Muslim, or Sunni, or Shiite, or Arab, or Kurd, or male, or female compromises their right, which emanates from their very humanity, to be free.

Ever threatened as it is by the dark forces of tyranny, freedom depends on general acclamation of that fundamental truth. So preelection speculation that Iraqis couldn't manage self-governance was both perplexing and dangerous.

The demonstration of intent on Jan. 30 suggests strongly that the speculation also will prove to have been dead wrong.

Eight million Iraqis, nearly 60% of eligible voters, defied the fanatical murderers terrorizing their country by voting. The massive act of valor didn't halt the violence. No one expected it to.

Nor did the strong voter turnout guarantee success with self-governance. Iraqis still must adopt a constitution that accommodates the traditionally incendiary ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of their country. And they must assume the burden of security.

These are large challenges. Iraqis might yet fail. But 8 million of them want self-governance to work, and many risked their lives to say so.

Freedom-loving people outside the country should do more than hope the Iraqis succeed. They should, out of basic human respect, expect them to.

(Author's e-mail: [email protected])