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COL Iraq's election miracle

Turnout is a thundering rejection of the insurgents

There were two outcomes from Sunday's elections in Iraq. One was historic, moving the process of populist government forward. The other was miraculous.

Iraqis streamed to the polls in numbers that far exceeded even optimistic predictions. In Shiite neighborhoods, participation is expected to be around 60 percent. In one Baghdad neighborhood, reports the New York Times, turnout was estimated to be nearly 80 percent. In this neighborhood alone, insurgent attacks have killed more than 100 people.

More importantly, reporters in cities such as Mosul, where violence wrought by insurgents is intense, say that turnout in places there could be as high as 40 percent. This, even though insurgents vowed to wash the streets with voters' blood.

The second outcome from the Iraqi vote was a courageous and thundering rejection of violence and the way of the insurgent. Given the state of the Iraqi nation, the vote was nothing short of miraculous.

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President Bush refused to back down from his desire for early elections in Iraq. By the morning after, he had gained a vindication and Iraqis had begun to pay back America for its efforts.

It can never be forgotten that these elections were paid for with the blood of U.S. troops. More than 1,400 American soldiers have died to bring this freedom to Iraq.

Some of the withering criticism against Bush and his administration's policies on Iraq was that Iraqis were unprepared to accept democracy.

Bush answered his critics by saying that in the gut of all humans is a burning desire for freedom. All it takes, Bush said, is the proper preparation, and democracy would bloom.

This election was just the first step in a process that is supposed to give Iraq a constitutional referendum and yet another election by the end of the year. It was indeed historic.

There was no small amount of questioning whether the deaths of U.S. troops would be in vain. Bush expects more fighting and dying ahead.

The Iraqi turnout in the election proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people are ready to seize the opportunity before them.

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