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December 13, 2005
Has The War Turned The Corner ... At Home?

The blogosphere has long resigned itself to the lack of coverage given by the Exempt Media to positive developments in Iraq. While we have read about increasing enthusiasm for voting on the milblogs and some of the secondary professional media outlets, the market leaders such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post have almost exclusively focused on body counts and bombings while ignoring everything else. When the Gray Lady sees fit to start reporting that even the Sunni of Saddam's hometown have committed themselves to democracy in the upcoming elections, it might indicate that defeatism has finally jumped the shark:

The guerrilla war found fertile ground in Tikrit, and defiant Sunni Arabs boycotted the elections in January.

But turnout in the parliamentary elections on Thursday is expected to be high, reflecting the shift in attitude of many Sunni Arabs toward the American-engineered political process.

"Last January, the elections were quite different than they are now," Wael Ibrahim Ali, 61, the mayor of Tikrit, said as he strode Tuesday along the grounds of the palace where Mr. Hussein used to celebrate his birthdays. "The people refused to vote, and now they see it was a wrong stand or wrong position."

This Sunni-dominated province of Salahuddin had a 29 percent turnout in January, one of the lowest in the country. In the past year, though, Sunni Arabs, who make up a fifth of Iraq's population, realized they had shut themselves out of the transitional government.

While this story appears at the top of the NYT's web version, the links on it indicate that the story ranks 11th out of 16 for the Times' International section -- below such articles as the amazing face-transplant story from France and the de-facto legalization of prostitution in Tijuana, hardly a development at all for the unfortunate border town of Mexico. Still, Edward Wong's piece reveals that the media has now recognized that with the vote underway, their depiction of Iraq as a irretrievable shambles will not long stand up to the coverage coming this week.

In this case, even the soul of Saddam's support base, Tikrit, has prepared for life in a democratic Iraq. They have a good political motivation for their efforts, of course; their earlier boycott left them to the tender mercies of the Kurds and the Shi'ites over whom they once ruled with Saddam's iron fist. After spending a year chafing miserably with almost no one representing them in the interim Assembly, the last thing any of them want is four more years of disenfranchisement. They will turn out in droves this week to the polls for the simplest of reasons, and the one that makes democracy work in any pluralistic society: self-interest.

It doesn't mean that they don't miss the old days of favor under the dictator in Tikrit, but they do recognize that those days will not return. Now they hold their election with politicians promising to push for better security in order to "end the occupation", a sentiment that the Coalition would not dispute. Their embrace of the ballot over the bullet will create an expectation that their politicians must follow through on their promises or be held accountable, and even the Sunni of Tikrit might learn to appreciate their ability to influence policy much more directly, and debate it much more openly, than when Tikrit's most notorious son utterly dominated Iraqi politics for over three decades.

The Sunni participation puts the last of the building blocks in place for the establishment of a consensus democratic republic. The reporting of the Times indicates that the American media might finally start recognizing what will shortly become obvious to all whether they do so or not: that a free Iraq exists, thanks to an administration that steadfastly refused to listen to the Chicken Littles of the opposition and the whiners of the Exempt Media at home. The war may finally have turned the corner in the only place it could be lost -- here in America.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 13, 2005 9:56 PM

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