Given our (understandable) preoccupation with the credit crisis in this country, people might overlook events in other countries. I have in mind the fact that after months of negotiations, Iraq’s parliament passed an important election law yesterday. According to the New York Times,
the bill’s passage represents a significant achievement for a country that has more often resorted to violence than political negotiation in resolving its differences.
The law still needs to be approved by the three-member presidential panel led by President Jalal Talabani, and because of the controversy over who will gain control of the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, that matter was given to a committee for further study (the report is due in March 2009).
The passage of the election law is just the latest development in a year of political progress in Iraq. And the fact that Iraqis were wise enough to bracket out the matter of Kirkuk and deal with it later is a sign of impressive political maturity.
It now seems like a distant memory, but it’s worth recalling that leading Democrats–including its presidential nominee, Barack Obama–opposed the surge long after it was clear we were making security gains. The grounds for their opposition, you’ll recall, was that Iraqis weren’t making political progress. Except that this year they have, on several fronts, including devolving political power to the local level, the distribution of resources, amnesty, and other things.
This no-political-progress argument was as foolish as the one made by leading Democrats in April, during the Congressional testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, when they insisted that Prime Minister Maliki’s offensive in Basra was a terrible loss for him and a big win for Muqtada al-Sadr (it turned out to be the opposite).
It’s worth noting, too, that liberal pundits like E.J. Dionne also look very bad in light of events. Dionne, for example, wrote this on April 11th:
The administration and its supporters talk incessantly about winning but offer no strategy for victory, no definition of what it would look like, no concrete steps to get us there, and no real sense of where “there” is.
We have a much better sense of where “there” is now, don’t we?
The truth is that the Iraq war was unquestionably getting better by the second half of 2007, and that progress accelerated throughout all of 2008. Yet leading Democrats frantically denied what was unfolding before their eyes — in this instance, America was winning in a war it was once losing. And while the credit crisis issue will clearly dominate tomorrow’s debate (assuming it goes forward), the topic of the debate is still foreign policy. And John McCain should continue to point out that on the single most important issue Senator Obama has voted on in his career in the Senate–the surge–Obama was manifestly wrong; and to this day, Mr. Obama continues to maintain that his vote against the surge was correct.
If Senator Obama had had his way and we had followed his counsel, Iraq would be lost instead of on the mend, and America would have been defeated in a war of enormous significance. This fact, more than any other, demonstrates that Barack Obama lacks the judgment to be commander-in-chief. I fully expect Senator McCain to forcefully make this point on Friday night.