Thursday, January 13, 2005

Let them vote!

Thomas Friedman weighs in on the side of forging ahead with the Iraqi elections for the end of the month.

The notion that delaying the elections for a few months would somehow give time for the "Sunni moderates" to persuade the extremists to come around is dead wrong - literally. Any delay would simply embolden the guys with the guns to kill more Iraqi police officers and to intimidate more Sunnis. It could only convince them that with just a little more violence, they could scuttle the whole project of rebuilding Iraq.

There is only one thing that will enable the Sunni moderates in Iraq to win the debate, and that is when the fascist insurgents are forced to confront the fact that their tactics have not only failed to prevent the elections, but have also dug the Sunnis of Iraq into an even deeper hole.

By boycotting the elections, not only will they lose their unfair share of the old Iraq, they will also have failed to claim even their fair share of the new Iraq. The moderate argument among the Sunnis can prevail only when the tactics of their extremists have proved utterly bankrupt.

I don't think that anyone is claiming that the elections are going to be perfect, but putting them off just seems to guarantee more trouble. And why should the vast majority of Iraqis who have demonstrated a desire for democracy have to wait because a band of thugs have decided it is not in their interest?

And the fact of the matter is that you can never convince extremists to come around to your way of thinking. That is why they are extremists. The only solution is to defeat them. By helping the people of Iraq move towards democracy through these elections, we help them to defeat the extremists in their midst.

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