Several folks have noted a particularly promising viewpoint in Omar’s description of his voting day experience in Baghdad.
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. The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ‘ patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer! [Omar The people have won; Iraq the Model. 30Ja05]
Security was a big issue and well publicized. There were at least three rings with voters being subjected to two body searches before the could get to the inner ring and cast their vote. Shannon Love, in The Chicago Boyz Happy Kill a Terrorist Day noted that what some considered an opportunity was really a honey trap for the terrorist. 8 – 10 did get close and caused another 20 – 30 deaths. This was, by nearly any measure successful security. But there were two other facets that were even more important.
One was the low profile of the US military and the heightened presence of the Iraq National Guard and police. The second was illustrated in Omar’s observation that there is an awareness that the loyalty is due to the country and not to any particular leader.
This matter of loyalty is one that people like Kerry and Kennedy do not seem to grasp. The US has a long history of learning this lesson going back to George Washington and his precedents for the Presidency and to a West Point Military Acadamy ethic that was stressed by the war between the states. From West Point it has propagated to the US military and then to the new Iraqi Guard and Police. It is an important lesson for the maintenance and fidelity of freedom and let us hope it does not get lost.