Cautious optimism seems to be the theme of this Robin Wright story:
For President Bush, the strong turnout for Iraq’s election yesterday may represent the best day since the fall of Baghdad 32 months ago because all major factions participated in the political process, according to U.S. and Middle East analysts. But the sobering reality, they added, is that the vote by itself did not resolve Iraq’s lingering political disputes.
After weeks of an increasingly divisive debate at home that helped sink the president’s approval rating to an all-time low, the Bush administration appeared buoyed by the throngs at the polls and the low violence. Flanked in the Oval Office by six young Iraqis, all with a purple-stained finger signifying they had voted, Bush called the election a “major milestone” on the road to democracy.
“This is a major step forward in achieving our objective, which is . . . having a democratic Iraq, a country able to sustain itself and defend itself, a country that will be an ally in the war on terror and a country that will set such a powerful example to others in the region, whether they live in Iran or Syria,” he said.***
But even some Republicans urged caution in assessing the results yesterday, while congressional Democrats called on the White House to use the election to accelerate the transition and create the conditions for the redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.
In Baghdad for election day, Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) said the vote provided a “second chance,” but he also warned that the successful day should not be interpreted as a solution to Iraq’s problems. “Really, in many ways, they’re just beginning,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.
Anthony H. Cordesman, a Persian Gulf military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed. He said the vote is not the long-awaited turning point but rather a trigger for launching a new political process next year that will include amending a constitution. That, he said, will better determine whether Iraq has a chance of emerging out of turmoil.
Milestone is probably a more apt description than turning point. Just another step in a long process, and one that seems to have gone off rather wll. That is a good thing and a cause for optimism, but it doesn’t turn Fallujah into Fargo.
The accompanying headline made me laugh, though:
Experts Cautious in Assessing Iraq Election: High Turnout, Low Violence a Positive Step but Not a Turning Point, Analysts Say
Every time I see a headline touting experts, I am reminded of my favorite all-time Onion story- Nation’s Experts Give Up:
Citing years of frustration over their advice being misunderstood, misrepresented or simply ignored, America’s foremost experts in every field collectively tendered their resignation Monday.
“Despite all our efforts to advise this nation, America still throws out its recyclables, keeps its guns in unlocked cabinets where children have easy access, eats three times as much red meat as is recommended, watches seven hours of TV per day, swims less than 10 minutes after eating, and leaves halogen lights on while unattended,” said Dr. Simon Peavy, vice-president of the National Association of Experts. “Since you don’t seem to care about things you don’t understand, screw you. We quit.”
“My final piece of expert advice,” Peavy added, “is that all of you people should just go fuck yourselves.”
The Onion is pure genius.