It's hard to read about the jubilation of Iraqi voters without my eyes tearing up.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Some came on crutches, others walked for miles then struggled to read the ballot, but across Iraq, millions turned out to vote Sunday, defying insurgents who threatened a bloodbath. ...
Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.
"We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.
Good for you, Mr. Jassim. That's the kind of spirit that's going to be required for you to rebuild your country.
In Baquba, a rebellious city northeast of Baghdad, spirited crowds clapped and cheered at one voting station. In Mosul, scene of some of the worst insurgent attacks in recent months, U.S. and local officials said turnout was surprisingly high. ...
Even in the so-called "triangle of death," a hotbed of Sunni insurgency south of Baghdad, turnout was solid, officials said. ...
Samir Hassan, 32, who lost his leg in a car bomb blast in October, was determined to vote. "I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for peace," he said, leaning on his metal crutches, determination in his reddened eyes.
Americans, Brits, Poles, Aussies, and other foreigners aren't the only ones who have suffered and died for Iraq, despite the way many news reports portray it. Most of the blood has been shed by Iraqis themselves, and this is a great day for their country. A great success.
In Sadr City, a poor Shi'ite neighborhood of northeast Baghdad, thick lines of voters turned out, women in black abaya robes in one line, men in another.
If Sadr City sounds familiar, it's because it was the headquarters of that radical Shi'ite cleric who led a rebellion last year, funded by Iran. And now the people are voting.
One of the biggest surprises was Mosul, a mixed Sunni Arab and Kurd city in the far north. "So far it's gone very well, much better than expected," said a U.S. army officer.
Baghdad's mayor was overcome with emotion by the turnout of voters at City Hall, where he said thousands were celebrating.
"I cannot describe what I am seeing. It is incredible. This is a vote for the future, for the children, for the rule of law, for humanity, for love," Alaa al-Tamimi told Reuters.
Indeed. Americans can learn a thing or two from the Iraqis -- maybe we could get a few thousand gallons of that indelible ink that prevents people from voting more than once, for starters.
There's a particularly encouraging report from Iraq the Model:
The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said: "You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's". This was a good sign indeed and the young officer's statement was met by applause from the people on the street.
Hammorabi has pictures from polling stations.
Jeffrey at Iraqi Bloggers Central has a summary of blog coverage, largely by Iraqi bloggers I hadn't heard about until now.
Steven Vincent issues a stern rebuke to lefties like Marko Zuniga:
And what of our friends on the Left? I'm sorry they can't share in our joy--because there is no reason they should not. Alas, like the Muslim Scholars Association, they, too, decided to "boycott" the elections. For example, here is what the great lefty website Daily Kos had to say yesterday:The war is long past lost. Time to pack it in, and save the lives of our men and women in uniform that will otherwise face a barrage of bullets and RPG rounds during their extended stay in the desert.
Clearly, Dean-shill Marko Zuniga has an odd perception of liberalism. On a day when millions of Iraqi citizens stood up against the specter of fascism to exercise their rights as free and dignified human beings, Zuniga claims the election is "simply an exercise in pretty pictures." Tell that to the Iraqis who danced and cried for joy at the chance to vote, Mr. Zuniga. Tell that to people who have suffered for decades under a tyrant whose crimes were brutal to the point of madness. Tell that to the men and women who died to make this day a reality.
Doesn't it bother the Left that they've positioned themselves such that today -- such a great day for Democracy -- they're inescapably grouped with losers like Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, doomed to the wrong side of history?