National Catholic Reporter

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Iraq's Elections - and Ours

 |  NCR Today

Iraq has not been on the front pages for some time, although recently, news of that country’s elections has made it to the back pages of most newspapers. The results of the election were messy but hopeful: The religious parties did less well than their secular counterparts and, so far, everyone has agreed to abide by the law and the results. After Florida in 2000, U.S. commentators should be reluctant to raise alarms about contestants challenging results in other countries.

But, the bigger, albeit quieter news, is that the U.S. is continuing its draw down of combat troops. On the radio the other day, its was reported that by September 1, we will have only 50,000 combat troops in that country. This is President Obama’s ace-in-the-hole with his base. It is easy to forget how much opposition to the war in Iraq figured in President George W. Bush’s plummeting poll numbers in his last years in office. Democrats who always thought the Iraq War was a mistake should remember that one of the happy consequences of the 2008 election of President Barack Obama is that the war is coming to a close.

It is dangerous to predict future events in Iraq. Of course, a high-profile attack or assassination could upset the apple cart at any moment. But, it is difficult to imagine a series of events in Iraq that would result in a reversal of the troop draw down. President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress should be able to invigorate their base, and get them to the polls in November’s mid-term elections, be reminding them of what a difference elections can make, and not only in Iraq.

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