Some good news for a change.
Despite the awful security situation in Iraq, despite the gloomy prognostications of many commentators in the West, despite the war on democracy declared by al Zarqawi, the turnout in the Iraqi elections was a healthy 72%:
Polls have closed after a day which saw Iraqis defy the bombers and turn out in their millions to cast their ballot in an historic election.
About 25 people died in a series of bomb attacks staged by Sunni militants trying to scare voters away.
Despite the suicide bomb attacks, voter turnout was 72 per cent, the Election Commission said.
Highest turnout was in the Kurdish and Shia areas, where up to 90 per cent of the population cast their ballots.
However the BBC is quoting a lower but still respectable turnout of 60%. Either figure is quite remarkable in the circumstances. For comparison, the turnout in the last 3 British general elections was 77.7% in 1992, 71.3% in 1997 and 59.4% in 2001.
It thus appears that the Iraqi people have turned out in droves to vote, risking life and limb to do so. Sadly 25 of them were killed by the insurgents, but overall what else is this but a great success for the project to bring democracy to Iraq?
Those who’ve been claiming that democracy cannot be brought to the middle east (and, however unwittingly, providing succour for the likes of Zarqawi), should ponder this result very carefully.
Those who’re in charge of reconstructing the country and who have promised democracy now have a lot to live up to. The Iraqi people clearly want democracy. Now it must be delivered, we cannot let the Iraqi people down, we cannot let the jihadists and ex-baathists win.
Blair and Bush may yet have serious cause to be proud of their Iraq policy, costly, bloody and marred by mistakes as the process has been.
Indeed, who back in 2000, or even after the 11 Sept 2001, would have thought that the legacy of George W Bush and Tony Blair would include a democratised Afghanistan and a democratised Iraq? Yet now we’re well on the way to achieving both.
Now a message to Blair, stop undermining democracy and liberty at home!