A Banner Year for Democracy

Ralph Peters writes that 2004 was “a vintage year for democracy,” citing developments not only in Afghanistan and Ukraine, but in Australia, Mozambique and elsewhere, including our own Presidential election. The most important election next year, of course, will take place in Iraq:

Terrorists will do all they can to disrupt the balloting. Iraqis will die for the crime of casting a vote. There’ll be local corruption, religious influence, ethnic division, tribal bullying and polling boycotts. After all of our sacrifices, those Iraqis who manage to vote may favor parties whose agendas frustrate us.
But the Iraqis will vote. Not all of them. But millions. Despite the ferocious efforts of the terrorists and insurgents, the Arab world is about to see the first truly free election between the Nile and the Euphrates.
Global pundits will find endless flaws, and many a Washington apparatchik may be troubled by the election’s outcome. But the Iraqi elections will be a milestone that no demagogues, America-haters or instant revisionists will be able to wish away.
Democracy works. It doesn’t work all of the time, and it doesn’t work everywhere instantly. Sometimes the largest tribe wins and believes it has a mandate to oppress minorities. Sometimes the people choose the hater, not the man of hope. Sometimes the thugs get away with stealing the election.
But consider where this world of ours stood 50 years ago. Or 15 years ago. Or even in 2003. Democracy’s march is long, hard and painful. But humankind stepped forward in 2004.

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