There was plenty of bad news in 2009, but David Ignatius brings us good news from an unlikely place: Iraq:
Visiting Anbar province several weeks ago and listening to the governor of Ramadi talk about his big development plans, I found myself wondering if maybe the cruel Iraq story might have a happy ending after all. This was the province where al-Qaeda declared its first emirate, just a few years ago, and now the governor is handing out a special Financial Times report on business opportunities there.
When I meet Iraqis these days, they all want to talk politics: Which party is ahead in the March parliamentary elections? Can Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani or Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi unseat the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki? It’s the kind of freewheeling political debate you can’t find anywhere else in the Arab world. I want to believe it’s real, even as the terrorist bombs continue to explode in Baghdad and other cities.
As a nation, our sacrifice in Iraq has been immense, so immense that even with if we see a “happy ending,” there will always be serious debate about whether it was worth the cost. But with everything else that’s going on in the Middle East, I’m happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer running Iraq, and that the concept of “Iraq the model” no longer seems so very far-fetched.