The process by which we succeed in Iraq (if we do) can be thought of as a series of events by which one party keeps faith with the others. First, we kept faith with the people of Iraq by remaining in force to rebuild the country after we toppled Saddam and carried out our search for WMD. Then, the Shiite majority kept faith by rejecting the radical elements when they rose up against the occupation. We then kept faith with the Shiites by scheduling elections and seeing them through as scheduled. And today, the Iraqi people kept faith by turning out and voting.
Further acts of faith will be required. The Shiites must now keep faith with the U.S. and the Sunnis by developing a consititutional system that respects (both on paper and in practice) Sunni interests. The Sunnis must keep faith by participating in that system. The U.S. must keep faith by continuing to provide security, train Iraqi forces, and assist with the reconstruction. Even if these things happen, the insurgency probably will not end. But Iraq will develop the institutions and the forces that should enable it to deal with the insurgency with far less help from us.
Will the parties continue to keep the faith? I don’t know. But so far, every time a party has needed to rise to occasion, it has. And never more spectacularly than today.
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