Monday, January 31, 2005

Here's A Thumb In Your Eye, Pal

In the interests of full disclosure, I feel I must repeat the fact that I voted for John Kerry in the November elections. While I agreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq at the time, just about everything since the fall of Baghdad has been handled with a thoughtless ineptitude that would outrage the Italian General Staff. My vote was a protest against the distinct lack of adult supervision as much as it was about anything else. Be that as it may:

Sunday, January 30th, 2005 is a date that will shine forever in the hearts of those who love the cause of human liberty.

Why? For this simple reason: in huge numbers, the Iraqi people came forth to reclaim ownership of their political process. In large part, they chose to ignore the terrorists' threats, and came out to vote for the future of their nation. Much remains to be done. This is the critical year, in many respects. Slogging through the details of a new constitution is hard work, and you may remember that we didn't exactly get it right the first time -- Articles of Confederaiton, anyone? But in other respects, one major obstacle has been overcome. They have elected to begin the process, and they have done so in such numbers that few can seriously doubt the legitimacy of the council selected to do the job.

And there's another important reason. This is a key victory in the global war against terrorism. The jihadists, the Islamists, they have been forced to lay their cards on the table for all to see. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared that democracy is inherenly anti-Islamic, according to his interpretation, and one may assume that Osama bin Laden is in agreement. Despite this declaration, and depsite their blusters, threats, and violence, their greatest fear is coming to rampaging life. If this experiment the Iraqi people have embarked upon succeeds, a functioning democratic state will come to life in the midst of the Islamic world. One that shows that Islam can, in fact, co-exist with a free people.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a lot ahead that still needs to be done, but rest assured: this is bin Laden's "von Paulus at Stalingrad" moment. His movement's momentum is flagging. They needed a shot in the arm, and badly. They needed something that they could point to as an unalloyed success, like last year's Madrid bombings. But instead of a glorious victory, they've been handed an ignominious defeat. They run from hideout to hideout, causing a little damage and mayhem here and there, but unable to shake the trajectory of events.

It may be premature to gloat. There's still a lot that can go wrong. But, there's less that can go wrong than there was a week ago.

In time, we may well be able to say that Sunday was the Islamist terrorist's 9/11. And for that reason, I have this to say to all the terrorists:

Here's a thumb in your eye, pal. Buh-bye, and hope you enjoy your luge ride to Hell.

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