Back to Business as Usual

Thank [your deity here], we’re done with the Iraq vote. Now we can back to the really important stuff: The 9 a.m. (Pacific) CBS radio news led with Michael Jackson arriving at the courthouse as jury selection began for his trial on child-molestation charges. In the correspondent’s breathless report, you could hear the throngs screaming in the background.

In San Francisco, meantime, people actually protested the Iraq vote and, I guess, the way it’s being portrayed. It’s all well and good to point out all the conditions that made the event less than the dawn of full-fledged democracy in Iraq: martial law, the heavy military presence, the polling places that didn’t open, et cetera. But it’s a losing proposition, in PR and human terms, to demonstrate against the vote. Regardless of all the flaws, regardless of the long-term meaning, regardless of our government’s untruths in leading us into the war and its calamitously misguided actions in conducting it, when given the opportunity, a group of people who have suffered a degree of oppression we glimpse only in nightmares got a chance to change their future and jumped at it (one view of the event from The New York Times’s John Burns; and another from Salon, hardly a friend of the Iraq project). In my mind, that’s something to be celebrated, no matter how angry I happen to be about what has led us to this point and how much doubt I entertain about the future course of events there.

And in Iraq today, things are going back to business as usual, too. The insurgency is still on. Several U.S. troops have been killed in combat. I’m sure that soon it will be apparent that, in terms of creating a new government and new political reality in Iraq, yesterday was the easy part.